German companies linked to reconstruction efforts in Russian-occupied Mariupol

German construction equipment and materials have been spotted in the occupied city of Mariupol, which was largely destroyed by Russian forces, ARD News reported. An investigation by ARD's Monitor magazine, which analyzed construction company reports and photo and video material from Mariupol, revealed the presence of German-made machinery and windows, as well as cement bags bearing the logo of Knauf, a major German company with business in Russia.

In response to a query from ARD Monitor, Knauf stated that it condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and adheres to all EU sanctions. The company mentioned that it operates a subsidiary in Russia that supplies products exclusively to the domestic market. Previously, Nikolaus Knauf, head of the family that owns Knauf, had stated that the company has 4,000 employees in Russia, and sales figures are in the "billions". It is noted that for 20 years, Nikolaus Knauf served as the honorary consul of Russia and criticized the imposition of sanctions following the annexation of Crimea.

Sanctions law expert Viktor Winkler called Knauf's position—that sanctions do not apply to its subsidiary operating on the domestic Russian market—absurd. He commented that even if building materials are not subject to EU sanctions in general, companies should be aware that they indirectly support wartime activities. Knauf's subsidiary has reportedly taken part in a residential construction project ordered by the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Bundestag MP Roderich Kiesewetter condemned the involvement of German companies in such construction efforts, noting that Knauf is "effectively reinforcing Russian power in the occupied territories, including in Mariupol".

Journalists also identified concrete blocks with the logos of WKB Systems GmbH at construction sites in Mariupol. The major shareholder of this company is the Russian oligarch Viktor Budarin.

  War in Ukraine, Mariupol, Germany