Senate Report Says Russian Investor In Kentucky Aluminum Mill Is Kremlin Proxy
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia report released earlier this week identified the Russian company that has invested in Braidy Industries' planned aluminum rolling mill in Eastern Kentucky as a proxy of the Kremlin, according to The Courier-Journal.
- United Co. Rusal “agreed last year to invest $200 million in the mill, which is expected to create hundreds of long-term jobs in a struggling region of the state if Braidy is able to raise enough financing to build the facility, which will cost well over $1.5 billion,” per the report.
- The GOP-led Senate committee detailed in its report released Tuesday the “extensive connections between President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign advisers and people with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime.” A key figure among those individuals is “Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska — a part-owner of Rusal, which is a major aluminum company that operates internationally.”
- The Senate report says: "Deripaska's companies, including RUSAL, are proxies for the Kremlin, including for Russian government influence efforts, economic measures, and diplomatic relations."
The Courier Journal sent Braidy Industries a request for comment concerning the Senate committee's report. It also asked about the status of Rusal's investment in the mill, whether Braidy intends to continue its business relationship with that firm, and how Braidy's efforts to secure financing for the mill are proceeding.
Braidy — which recently brought a new acting president and CEO, Don Foster, on board — responded through a spokeswoman with the following statement: "Don Foster ... is hard at work every day, utilizing his expertise and expansive network built during his 40 years in the metals industry to finalize financing and build the mill in Ashland, KY."
- A June U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report filed by Braidy “said Rusal had provided $75 million so far for the mill project as of Dec. 31, 2019, but had discontinued further contributions until Braidy secures another $300 million in funding,” The Courier-Journal reported.
- The outlet noted that the “U.S. government previously imposed sanctions on Rusal and its parent company, EN+ Group,” and “Rusal's decision to invest in Braidy's mill was announced in April 2019, a few months after the federal government lifted the sanctions against the Russian firm.”
The U.S. Senate voted down a measure opposing the plan to end the sanctions against Rusal and EN+ Group in January 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Sen. Rand Paul, both Kentucky Republicans, voted against that attempt to keep the sanctions in place.
- On Wednesday, the Kentucky Democratic Party “questioned McConnell's decision to support lifting the sanctions on Rusal, in light of the Senate Intelligence Committee report's identification of Rusal as a proxy for the Kremlin.”
Robert Steurer, a spokesman for McConnell, told The Courier Journal last year that the senator has said Rusal's investment in Braidy's mill did not play a role in his stance on the sanctions against the Russian company. And McConnell told reporters in May 2019 that his decision to support lifting the sanctions was unrelated to "anything that might happen in my home state."