German media: German companies participate in the restoration of Mariupol

06.04.2024, Berlin.

German firms are playing an important role in the reconstruction of Mariupol despite European sanctions, according to an investigation by the authors of the Monitor program, published on April 3 by the news service of the German TV channel ARD Tagesschau.

Monitor’s journalists found photos and videos testifying to the presence of German firms at Mariupol construction sites. These are heavy machinery, windows with logos of several German manufacturers, bags with Knauf construction mixtures, etc.

Journalists point out that Knauf, a German family company from Franconia province, is a world leader in producing gypsum and has been doing big business in Russia for a long time.

The channel mentions a photo of company head Nikolaus Knauf, where “he is smiling next to President Putin.” The authors of the investigation expressed indignation that he retained this post even after criticizing the sanctions against Russia imposed in connection with Crimea’s notification with Russia.

Knauf himself claims that 4,000 employees still work in Russia and transfer billions there. In response to an inquiry from journalists, he revealed that the company condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and complies with all EU sanctions against Russia, but has a subsidiary in Russia and manufactures products in Russia “exclusively for the Russian market.”

In response, the investigation’s authors quote sanctions law expert Viktor Winkler as saying that even if construction materials are not, in principle, subject to EU sanctions rules, companies “should be able to effectively exclude the presence of any military ties from what they supply.”

CDU Bundestag deputy and member of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee Roderich Kiesewetter condemns German firms’ involvement in construction work in Mariupol. “This is very obvious to Knauf because they are actually strengthening Russian power in the occupied territories, including Mariupol,” ARD Tagesschau quoted the deputy as saying.

But Knauf is not an isolated case, Monitor reporters say. At numerous construction sites, concrete blocks wrapped in green packaging film can be seen with the inscription of a German company from Munsterland in North Rhine-Westphalia – WKB Systems GmbH. This company has plants for the production of concrete blocks.

The main shareholder of this company is Russian oligarch Viktor Budarin, the authors of the investigation claim. Customs data available to Monitor show: WKB Systems GmbH has been supplying Budarin’s Russian company with entire installations for plants producing such aerated concrete blocks for several years.

Many Russian oligarchs have already been sanctioned in recent years. Budarin is not one of them. Winkler says, “The EU’s choice of which oligarch will be sanctioned and which will not is, to put it mildly, not yet aligned with a single plan.”

In addition, the German sanctions expert says many contractors are not subject to sanctions. “From a legal point of view, there is a very good reason here for sanctions against this person, namely that this person is probably doing a lot to strengthen the Russian economy. And Germany is very much involved here,” he concludes.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency