Crimean Titan: Under a Russian Holding or a Ukrainian Tank?

The Monitoring group of the Black Sea Institute of Strategic Studies and the BlackSeaNews

The Crimean Titan may become part of a large titanium holding company being created in Russia by the companies closely affiliated with the Rotenberg brothers or a «fallen hero» holding back the Ukrainian offensive. Either one of the diametrically opposed scenarios is a real possibility in the near future.

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Two months before the start of the Great War on February 24, 2022, the Crimean Titan (CP) plant’s previous owner, Dmiyro Firtash, had lost control of it. Most likely, while preparing for the invasion, Russia had realized that his connections, including those useful for smuggling ilmenite to the plant, would no longer be needed, and that the time had come for transferring the plant to the Russian business.

  • In December 2021, Ukrainian Chemical Products (UCP), a part of Dmitry Firtash Group DF’s titanium business, sold all its Crimean assets to the Russian Titan, established in July 2021 by founders Sergey Romanenko (50%), Roman Stepanov (30%), and Sergey Maksimov (20%) with an authorized capital of RUB 10, 000. The company’s main activity is extraction and enrichment of the titanium-magnesium raw materials.

  • After the outbreak of the Great War and the occupation of the Ukraine mainland’s south, the CT management was taken over by Russia’s Bashkir Soda Company (BSC). Since the latter had been nationalized by the Russian government in the spring of 2021, the transfer meant that the management of a trophy plant was now carried out by a state structure.

  • In April 2022, the BSC attempted to launch limited ammonium phosphate production at the CT. However, its more ambitious plans to develop full-scale production there had been hampered by the successes of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. As it is expensive and dangerous to deliver raw materials containing fluorine and ammonia by road, the plant’s entire infrastructure had been designed to obtain raw materials by rail. However, both the approaching frontline and Ukraine's acquisition of long-range weapons have made it impossible to launch rail service through the Azov land corridor.

The BSC, though, had not remained the CT's managing company for long, passing on its operation management in May 2022 to the Russian Hydrogen (RH) that finally became its official owner (Titanaktiv LLC, 99%) in February 2023.

  • And it was then, during the first stage of the Great War when Russia counted dates to the complete occupation of Ukraine, that Russian economic media discussed a major takeover of the chemical market in favor of Gazprom and Putin's close friends, the Rotenberg brothers, via the creation of a chemical holding, with CT mentioned as one of its victims:

  • «The deal of the century in Bashkiria. BSC, Sterlitamatsky Petrochemical Plant and Synthesis-Kauchuk JSC are being united under one management... According to sources, the largest chemical enterprises in Sterlitamak and Salavat are to be united under one holding with the Gazprom participation. They also plan to transfer 47% of the BSC to Russian Hydrogen... Russian Hydrogen and Gazprom will merge the former Crimean assets of Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash. In particular, we are talking about the Crimean Titanium plant, recently relaunched with the BSC participation,» wrote TG channel The Unplanned Economy in May 2022.

According to various estimates, Rotenberg expected to create a holding consisting of 18 enterprises, possibly including the trophy ones. Over 2023, the merger of various assets into the holding has continued and, for some companies, completed, as signified by the Russian president’s decrees and Russian government’s resolutions.

Crimean Titan: Under a Russian Holding or a Ukrainian Tank?

As of today, Russian Hydrogen fully controls Crimean Titan and owns 47% of the shares in BSC that last year managed CT. 

Both companies are extremely valuable assets. BSC is the leader in Russia's soda ash and baking soda production and is also a leader in the manufacture of caustic soda and polyvinyl chloride. 

CT is a company that produces titanium dioxide widely used to create white pigment. The fact that there is no such production in Russia automatically makes the company owner the market monopolist.

The transfer of chemical assets to Putin's «wallets,» the Rotenbergs, shows that along with oil, chemical production is becoming one of the Russian budget’s key revenue sources and thus, one of the sources of financing the war against Ukraine. Therefore, the new holding should be subject to close sanctions scrutiny.

Whether the Rotenbergs' current activity in the chemical market has been expected and/or rational is a complicated questioon. On the one hand, sanctions are gradually, albeit slowly, minimizing profits in various areas of Russian business, while the «Ozero Cooperative» is not used to living on a budget. Meanwhile, the de-facto forced squeezing of BSC from the national business of Bashkortostan in the current circumstances has already stirred up discontent in the republic becoming an obvious proof of the intensification of the federal racketeering towards the profitable regional assets. And it likely won't be the last one.

As for the Crimean Titan, the announced plans of Russian oligarchs may be just a smoke screen for the final destruction of the Ukrainian trophy competitor in case of the peninsula’s deoccupation.

Last year, the Russian media already reported that «the holding’s titanium dioxide will be produced in Bashkiria,» i.e. not at the CT.

We can therefore assume that the Russian elite has already determined the CT fate as that of a «fallen hero,» and that the plant’s transfer to RH was done for the sake of not economic, but military expediency.

Under the circumstances, Russia may not just liquidate Crimean Titan as an enterprise, but may literally destroy it in a way that would create a disaster zone in the north of Crimea. The purpose would be to deter Ukrainian offensives on the way of liberating the occupied peninsula. For example, blowing up the Crimean Titan with its acid storage facility could be seen by the enemy as a way to slow down the advance of Ukrainian troops.

CT seems to be no longer of interest to Russia as an enterprise or a RF assertion factor in Crimea that provides jobs for Crimeans. Instead, it's being seen as a military forepost, whose sole purpose is to deter the advance of the UAF. And if deterrence through destruction and chemical contamination won’t work, it would at least become a heavy economic burden for Ukraine when reclaiming its sovereignty over the peninsula.

To that end, the apparent preparations for the plant’s physical destruction — it’s been already reported that Russian servicemen are stationed at the plant with explosives already delivered there — can be considered a key marker that Russia is losing both its ability and interest to hold on to Crimea, and has instead switched to the «terror of the retreating», not unlike the blowing up of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.

In any case, in recent months, Crimean patriots have been regularly reporting that Russia has been taking steps to turn the Crimean Titan into a fortification on the path of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Since May this year, Ukrainian officials have been also voicing such opinion.

At the end of June, Oleksiy Danylov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said: «Today, those two facilities [Crimean Titan and Zaporizhzhia NPP] are the key ones where they [the occupiers] can harm us, but keep in mind that this cannot stop us from liberating our Ukraine from the terrorists.»

Crimean collaborators seem to be confirming the danger. Collaborator Vladimir Konstantinov, for instance, openly tries to convince us that it is a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group that is planning to blow up the plant: «The main threat there is hydrochloric acid, which is stored in large containers and in large quantities. Its spillage, of course, won’t be a good thing, and we all must realize that.» Of course, we all know too well that accusing the opponents in advance of a crime that Russia itself plans to commit is a tried and true Russian tactics.

Chronology and Details:

In April 2023, Vladimir Putin signed a decree transferring 47% of the federally owned shares of the BSC to the trust management of JSC Russian Hydrogen. Later, on August 2, 2023, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order transferring 757.3 thousand BSC shares to the same trust management without a tender.

  • For reference: Bashkir Soda Company (BSC JSC, TIN 0268008010, OGRN 1020202079479, OKPO 00203312, registered on 10.12.1991 at: 453110, Republic of Bashkortostan, Sterlitamak, 32, Tekhnicheskaya St.), one of Russia's largest producers of soda ash and baking soda, was previously part of Bashkirskaya Khimiya JSC. In 2020, the Arbitration Court of Bashkiria upheld the claim of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office to reclaim 95.7% — 1.58 million out of 1.66 million —of the holding's BSC shares. Since 2021, 38% of BSC shares have been owned by Bashkiria, another 11% are held in trust by Regional Fund JSC, and the remaining stake is federally owned. The head of the company is Eduard Malikovich Davydov (TIN 071405665507).

  • JSC Russian Hydrogen has been assigned the TIN 7716953328, KPP 773001001, OGRN 1217700039853, OKPO 47033780. The founder is Fin-Partner Management Company, LLC. JSC RH is registered at 121151, Moscow, Dorogomilovo municipal district, Taras Shevchenko nab. 23A, floor 12, office 77. The CEO of the organization is Davydov Eduard Malikovich. The company has been operating since 03.02.2021, its authorized capital is RUB 500,000. It was founded by businessman Tikhonov Stanislav Valerievich (born on 29.11.1965. In 1988, he graduated from the Gubkin Russian Oil and Gas University and began his career in commercial firms. From 2002 to 2012 worked as the General Director of OJSC Nefteresursy, and afterwards — as an advisor to the General Director of JSC Yamaltransbud).

  • S. Tikhonov, however, was a sole but only nominal owner of RH until September 2022, when he was replaced by Fin-Partner Management Company LLC, owned by Center-M LLC, whose shareholders included Arkady and Boris Rotenberg.

  • The RH management includes former top BSC and TD Bashkhim managers, such as Guzel Khafizova and Marina Bortova, respectively (see

  • Davydov Eduard Malikovich, DOB 10.07.1984 TIN 071405665507. Passport 8304690447. SNILS: 07241254635. Registration addresses: Russian Federation, Nalchik, 133 Krasnoarmeyskaya St.; Russian Federation, Republic of Bashkortostan, Sterlitamak, 108 Gogol St., apartment 34. General Director of JSC Bashkir Soda Company and JSC Berezniki Soda Plant, JSC Russian Hydrogen. Uses the following cell phone numbers: 79174726862, 79852939272, 79264910519, 74953631394, 74955405770, 79067706040, 79991324545. Owns the following cars: QX60/JX Infiniti (H770VM102); SANTA FE Hyundai H770VM102, O314NS790, H992ME102. E-mail: [email protected]. Married, has four children.

  • Family ties: Davydova Regina Rashbilovna, DOB 09.10.1986, TIN 772579137087, passport 4510 351241, registration address; Russian Federation, Krasnogorsk, Nikolo-Uryupino village, bldg. 2, apt. 2А. Mobile numbers: 79639025772, 79639025771, 79859695138 E-mail: [email protected]

In March 2022, Rotenberg sent a letter to Putin proposing to transfer BSK and 17 other Russian enterprises to RH. After talking with Arkady Rotenberg, the Russian president sent out to the ministries a letter stamped «for proposals.»

  • BSC was transferred to RH on the strict conditions: the company would not have the right to dispose of assets or receive compensation for expenses and remuneration, but would be obliged to act in favor of Rosimushchestvo, receiving dividends from the shares and transferring them to the Russian Federation.

In April 2022, RH took over the operational management of the Bashkir JSC Sterlitamatsky Petrochemical Plant (SNGZ) and Synthez-Kauchuk (SK), that along with other enterprises, were part of the TAU Neftekhim group. Citing data from the Bashkir government, it was reported that one of the SNHZ and SK owners via the Cyprus-based Rixford Asset Holding, Ltd and Referee Capital Holdings, Ltd was Joseph Rutman, who lived in the United States and Israel and was on Russia's federal wanted list for grand corruption. Besides Rutman, as of early 2021, the group's beneficiary was entrepreneur Damir Muginov.

RH also took over the operational management of Crimean Titan. In 2018, Titanium Investments (TI), a company previously linked to Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, that owns the CT plant in Armyansk and is considered Russia's largest producer of titanium dioxide, was in the early stages of bankruptcy. In 2020, though, the proceedings were terminated due to a settlement agreement. Nevertheless, the company continues to incur losses.

Until July 2022, the TI sole owner was the Cyprus-based Letan Investments Limited, whose beneficiary was believed to be Firtash. However, the list of founders has since changed: today, they are listed as Titanaktiv, LLC (99%) and JSC Russian Hydrogen (1%). Since February of this year, Titanactiv has been owned by RH.

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This article has been prepared with the support of the European Union in Ukraine. The content of the article is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the position of the EU