Ukraine: Russia invasion 'could increase food prices' says Smith
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NATO, the EU and the two organisations’ litany of allies have united against Russian aggression, kneecapping the Putin regime with a raft of unprecedented sanctions. Russia is now cut off from the SWIFT payment system, and its various financial backers are haemorrhaging money by the second. The country’s financial figureheads – the oligarchs – stand to lose the most over the next few weeks or months to come, and some have already called to an end to hostilities with Ukraine.
What is an oligarch?
Russia’s oligarchs emerged towards the end of the USSR, when the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, steered the country towards market liberalisation.
They are leading businessmen and women who exert control over the country’s most vital industries.
For the most part, they concentrate influence over formerly state-owned assets such as energy production, including gas, petrol and metals.
Their centralised control over the country’s assets means they wield significant national influence, placing them close to Russia’s highest-ranking officials.
Western nations and their allies have turned to sanctioning them as a means of targeting Russia’s most powerful figures.
The US Treasury said it had chosen to sanction “elites close to Putin”, claiming they use the state to “enrich themselves” and “elevate their family members into some of the highest positions of power in the country”.
British authorities have followed the US’ lead, with each round of sanctions focussing on new individuals.
Who are the Russian oligarchs?
Russia has a generous scattering of high net-worth individuals, but not all are oligarchs.
The current crop wields influence in energy companies and banks, and also boast high-profile investments in western firms.
Some of the most high profile have established presences in the UK.
Russian oligarchs include:
- Alisher Usmanov (metal magnate): Net worth approx $15.3 billion (£11.4 billion)
- Alexey Mordashov (shareholder and chairman of the Severstal conglomerate): Net worth approx $25.8 billion (£19.3 billion)
- Alexander Ponomarenko (chairman of the board for Sheremetyevo International Airport): Net worth approx $2.9 billion (£1.4 billion)
- Gennady Timchenko (stakeholder in Russian raw material firms): Net worth approx $21.1 billion (£15.8 billion)
- Mikhail Fridman (founder of Alfa Bank): Net worth approx $11.3 billion (£8.4 billion)
- Oleg Deripaska (founder of Basic Element industrial group): Net worth approx $4 billion (£2.9 billion)
- Roman Abramovich (Chelsea FC owner): Net worth approx $13.6 billion (£10.1 billion)
- Petr Fradkov (head of Promsvyazbank): Unknown net worth
- Denis Bortnikov (deputy president of lender VTB): Unknown net worth
- Yury Slyusar (director of United Aircraft Corp): Unknown net worth
- Elena Georgieva (chair of Novikombank board): Unknown net worth
Which oligarchs have called for the war to end?
Few oligarchs have spoken out against the war in Ukraine, but they are not completely silent.
So far, Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska have both come out against the conflict.
Mr Fridman said the conflict in Ukraine should end as soon as possible but stopped short of calling our Mr Putin.
And Mr Deripaska pleaded for peace via the Telegram messaging app.
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