German companies are participating in the reconstruction of Mariupol

The German political magazine ARD Monitor conducted an investigation into the involvement of German companies in the reconstruction of ukrainian Mariupol, occupied by the Russian army.

The investigation revealed that the German construction company Knauf is actively participating in the “reconstruction” of Mariupol, which was destroyed by Russian bombings. Evidence includes photos and videos of the company’s products at construction sites in the devastated city. The company’s annual reports and website have repeatedly mentioned its involvement in the reconstruction process. However, it is not known whether the company’s products are being used for military purposes – for the construction of Russian military facilities.

Since 1993, Knauf has invested over 1.65 billion euros in the Russian economy. The company is represented in Russia by ten subsidiaries, twenty factories, and nearly thirty resource centers. The German manufacturer of building materials employs 4,000 people in Russia.
Nikolaus Wilhelm Knauf, the head of Knauf, is closely connected with the Russian government. For 23 years, until March 2022, he held the status of Honorary Consul of Russia with a representation in Nuremberg. He maintained this position even after the annexation of Crimea, and in 2018, he described further sanctions against Russia as “terrible”.

After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the company officially stated that it sees no reason to leave the aggressor’s market. “We will remain in Russia as long as the political and commercial situation allows us to do so. We are unequivocally responsible for over 4,000 employees and their families, as well as for customers and suppliers, many of whom we have had excellent and longstanding relationships with for many years,” the company stated.

In October 2022, German media highlighted that Knauf supports the mobilization of its employees into the ranks of the Russian armed forces. It was reported that Russian managers of the Knauf plant in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow, coordinated with the authorities lists of those who were very needed in production and those who could be sent to war. Some of those who received draft notices were allegedly even transported to military enlistment offices in the company’s own minibuses.

But Knauf is not an isolated case. In the images and videos reviewed by “Monitor,” concrete blocks wrapped in green packaging film are visible at numerous construction sites. They bear the logo of the German company – WKB Systems GmbH. The company owns factories that produce concrete blocks.

The main shareholder of the company is the Russian oligarch Viktor Konstantinovich Budarin. Budarin used his German company as a supplier for the construction sector of Putin’s Russia. Customs data available to “Monitor” indicate that WKB Systems GmbH has been supplying complete systems for the production of aerated concrete blocks to a Russian company owned by Budarin for several years – presumably, the very company whose products Russia is attempting to use to “reconstruct” Mariupol.

To counteract the involvement of German companies in strengthening the Russian economy, it is necessary to develop a systemic plan for implementing EU sanctions against companies and individuals that continue to do business in Russia. After all, these German construction companies are helping the Kremlin cement its power in the occupied territories and spread its influence in Europe.

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