Rinat Akhmetov’s Steel Front Provides Prosthetics to Wounded Warriors

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Steel Front is an initiative dedicated to aiding Ukraine’s defenders. The foundation’s members know that no matter how accurate the accounting, facts and figures never tell the full story of a war.
Wounded Warriors:- The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Steel Front is an initiative dedicated to aiding Ukraine’s defenders. [NewsGram]
Wounded Warriors:- The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Steel Front is an initiative dedicated to aiding Ukraine’s defenders. [NewsGram]

By Steven Hawk

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Steel Front is an initiative dedicated to aiding Ukraine’s defenders. The foundation’s members know that no matter how accurate the accounting, facts and figures never tell the full story of a war. Since the Feb. 24, 2022, Russian invasion, the exact number of Ukrainian military casualties — both for those killed in action and those gravely wounded — remains unknown.

“The steady stream of wounded soldiers into a clinic for artificial limbs in Kyiv is a stark reminder of the human cost of Russia's war on Ukraine, where military casualties are a secret closely guarded by both sides,” a March 28, 2023, Reuters article stated. “Unrelenting artillery fire along a 1,000-km (about 600 miles) front line and Russia's frequent use of missiles across the country mean that shrapnel wounds are maiming people in Ukraine on a scale just beginning to emerge.”

Putting Casualty Figures in Perspective

Sometimes, it’s difficult to put the tragedy of war into context. Imagine a beautiful late-October day. Yankee Stadium is filled to capacity for the opening game of the World Series. The crowd roars at the crack of a bat as a soaring home run ball sails into the stands. And then suddenly, everything changes. Everyone — every player, every spectator — finds themselves wracked with pain. They realize they’re wounded, missing an arm, a leg … or worse.

This nightmare scenario is the reality for close to 50,000 Ukrainians injured by unprovoked and unlawful Russian aggression.

For Philanthropist Rinat Akhmetov, Defending Ukraine’s Defenders Is a Sacred Trust

Billionaire, industrialist, and patriot Rinat Akhmetov never shirks his heartfelt commitment to aid and uplift every citizen of Ukraine impacted by Russia’s criminal incursion into his homeland. Drawing on the proceeds from an impressive portfolio of global corporations, including Ukrainian steel and mining giant Metinvest, Akhmetov channels funding into many forms of charitable outreach, including the Steel Front, an organization whose main focus is providing care and vital services to the brave defenders of Mariupol who’ve sacrificed so much for their country and their families.

From the onset of the invasion, Steel Front has been on a mission to safeguard Ukraine’s military personnel and simultaneously address the humanitarian needs arising from the continued atrocities committed in furtherance of President Vladimir Putin’s economic avarice and lust for geopolitical domination. In addition to the armored steel for front-line use in lifesaving bulletproof vests, steel shelters, and protective vehicle shields produced by Akhmetov’s Metinvest Group, Steel Front also provides housing, counseling, and medical programs to Mariupol’s military veterans and their loved ones.

Grave Injuries Will Continue To Mount, Even if Russian Aggression Ends

The damage to — and loss of — limbs due to the unrelenting onslaught of Russian munitions cannot be overstated. One of the most urgent needs injured defenders require as they attempt to reassimilate into civilian life is prosthetic devices.

“It is the largest land war the world has seen in 80 years and Russia has built an 800-mile-long defensive line that includes massive fields of mines. Some 20,000 to 50,000 Ukrainians have been seriously hurt and forced to amputate one or more limbs since the Russian full-scale invasion last February. That number surpasses levels not seen since World War I,” Nick Schifrin, PBS NewsHour’s foreign affairs and defense correspondent, said in an Aug. 20, 2023, interview with Andrey Stavnitser, co-founder of the Superhuman Center, a Ukrainian medical nonprofit that provides reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation to veterans and civilians who’ve suffered major war-related injuries.

“We have approximately the size of Austria filled with mines right now in Ukraine … Even if the war stops today, it’s going to take many months, if not years, to de-mine it. And we see civilians and military personnel stepping on those mines every day. More than 30,000 people are waiting for prosthetics right now; that means they have lost at least one limb. So the situation is getting really bad,” Stavnitser explained.

Helping the Wounded of Mariupol Recover Is One of Rinat Akhmetov’s Top Priorities

To meet Mariupol defenders’ pressing need for the newest generation of prosthetics devices, as well counseling and rehabilitation, in early October 2023, the Steel Front’s Heart of Azovstal program entered into a partnership agreement with the Without Limits Prosthetics and Rehabilitation Centre, one of Ukraine’s most highly esteemed facilities in the field of prosthetic surgery.

In operation since 2015, Without Limits has produced more than 4,000 prosthetic devices for Ukraine’s wounded. The facility’s unique professional expertise and commitment to providing prosthetic and orthopedic services that meet the highest global standards allows the Without Limits staff to tailor devices to meet specific individual requirements on a case-by-case basis, ensuring maximum performance and durability for the lifespan of each prosthetic device they design and produce.

Some specific goals cited in the agreement memorandum include: “implementing joint projects to improve the reintegration of Mariupol defenders into civilian life; providing consultations with medical professionals to assist in selecting the necessary prostheses for defenders with amputations; creating customized prostheses tailored to the specific needs of each hero who has sustained severe injuries during the defense of Mariupol; providing support to veterans as they transition back to a quality and fulfilling life following prosthetic treatment; and organizing joint advocacy events to support the defenders of Mariupol.”

Heart of Azovstal project manager Ksenia Sukhova stated: “We make it our mission to do everything to improve the lives of our defenders. The country is doing a lot to help them and we do not aim to replace the government’s efforts. We step in when the prosthetic treatment is complex. We try to find the best prosthetics center that provides the highest quality service and can better the quality of our defenders’ lives as much as possible.”

The human element is the driving force behind all of Steel Front’s good works. For Sukhova one poignant request from a wounded defender underscored that reality. “[He told us,] ‘I want to run after my child. ‘I want to have a sports prosthesis to be active and do sports and go jogging like before,’” Sukhova said. With the help of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, that soldier’s dreams are on track to come true.