An industry chief lashed out UK companies ordering metal from Vladimir Putin’s regime, which mounted a brutal invasion of Ukraine five weeks ago
Image: SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
British firms have bought thousands of tonnes of Russian steel since Vladimir Putin ’s forces invaded Ukraine, the Mirror can reveal.
Figures show 3,700 tonnes of Russian “strip mill” have been imported by the UK since the start of the war on February 24.
The Government introduced tough tariffs on Russian products on March 25, hitting them with “an additional tariff increase of 35 percentage points, over and above any existing tariff rate under the terms of the move”.
But legally they can still be brought to these shores.
UK companies have also bought 14,600 tonnes of “rebar” from Putin’s closest ally and neighbour, Belarus.
However, it is unclear which firms are buying the Russian and Belarusian products – and potentially helping prop up the Moscow and Minsk regimes by pumping cash into their economies.
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One furious UK steel executive told the Mirror: “Proper transparency of origin is essential.
“All buyers should check where their materials are coming from and be happy with the complete supply chain they are using.”
They added: “I assume that the importers are not exactly shouting from the rooftops about the origin of the steel they may be using.
“I also wonder whether construction companies or end users are actually aware of the provenance of the materials.
“I assume that nobody would really want to be knowingly using material from either of these sources in their projects.”
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel, called for UK firms to snub steel from the two countries.
Richard Townshend Photography)
Mr Kinnock, whose South Wales constituency includes Britain’s biggest steelworks, Port Talbot, said: “The Government must immediately call on British companies to boycott Russian and Belorussian steel.
“British companies should always seek to buy British steel as a matter of course, to support local communities and to help meet environmental targets.
“But choosing to buy specifically from Russia and Belarus is a gift to Vladimir Putin at a time when we should be seeking to freeze the country out of the world economy.
“Worse still, it is an insult to the thousands of brave Ukrainians who have lost their lives in Putin’s barbaric war.”
Community steelworkers’ union general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “The scenes from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and across Ukraine remain horrifying, and we need to ask ourselves how does the UK respond as a country?
“Sanctions are an important tool in the resistance of Russian aggression, and the UK steel industry is more than prepared to manufacture steel domestically.
“Not only should we not be importing steel from Russia or Belarus, this further demonstrates the case that we should maintain our ability to manufacture all grades of steel in the UK.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “The UK has taken swift action, including an unprecedented package of diplomatic and economic sanctions, to punish Putin for his barbaric actions in Ukraine.
“This includes introducing a 35% additional duty on top of existing tariff measures for various goods from Russia and Belarus, including steel.
“This will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, and ensure it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect.”
The Mirror has been campaigning to Save Our Steel since the industry was rocked by plant closures and thousands of job losses in 2015.
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