The chairman of the Russian owner of the Alumina plant Aughinish has called for “harsh punishment” for the perpetrators of the alleged murder of civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, putting them on a possible collision course with the Kremlin.
In a statement published on Rusal’s own website and authored by its Dutch chairman, Bernard Zonneveld, he called for an “objective and impartial investigation” into alleged war crimes committed when Bucha was under Russian control outside of Kyiv and exposed , as Ukrainian troops expelled the occupiers from the area in recent days.
“We were shocked by reports from the Ukrainian city of Bucha. We believe this crime should be thoroughly investigated. We support an objective and impartial investigation into this crime and call for severe punishment for the perpetrators. No matter how harsh it may seem in the context of the ongoing information warfare,” said Bernard Zonneveld.
The statement was made amid reports that Rusal’s largest shareholder, Oleg Deripaska, could be added to the list of Russian oligarchs and European Union politicians subject to sanctions in the coming days.
This has raised the prospect that Rusal and its Aughinish plant could also be affected here, although not automatically, and even if Mr Deripaska were sanctioned, Rusal could not be included in the move. That’s because the Russian billionaire owns a 44.95 percent minority stake in EN+, which in turn owns a majority stake in Rusal.
Rusal has previously warned of supply, funding and profit risks to its business as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Australia has banned the export of bauxite ore and alumina — the key ingredients in aluminum production — to Russia, and Rio Tinto has stepped in to take over Rusal’s stake in a joint venture there.
In his statement, Bernard Zonneveld limited himself to condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin or the invasion of Ukraine itself, but went much further than other major Russian companies in calling for punishment of those found guilty of a crime.
“Despite the brutality of current events in Ukraine themselves, such incidents make this terrible tragedy all the more traumatic. We all wish for an early end to this fratricidal war that is destroying lives, families and entire cities.
And we want those responsible for such crimes to be properly punished.”
Aughinish is a major employer in Limerick and, as the largest refinery of its kind in Europe, is a vital link in the aluminum supply chain, a mainstay of the industry.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe declined to comment when asked whether Oleg Deripaska could be put on the EU sanctions list, but said the government was aware of the importance of Rusal’s huge Limerick plant, which employs around 400 people and Resources employs, very consciously, a third of the EU’s alumina.
European Union leaders have sought to reaffirm their firm belief that ever-tightening sanctions against individuals and companies linked to the Russian leadership must hurt Russia more than the EU economy.
“We are very aware of the exceptional importance of Aughinish to both the local economy and our own economy and indeed its role as a strategic supplier to the European Union, and myself, the Tánaiste, the Taoiseach and Minister (Michael) McGrath aware of this importance and have indicated the support we have for this investment and the jobs there,” he told reporters.
He said he has met with Aughinish’s management on a number of occasions, including recently.
https://www.independent.ie/business/aughinish-owner-calls-for-war-crimes-investigation-in-bucha-41532095.html Aughinish owner calls for investigation into war crimes in Bucha