Ukraine’s top energy company Naftogaz has filed a lawsuit against Russia over alleged seizure of assets in Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory on the Black Sea that rejoined the Russian Federation in 2014 through a referendum.
“The losses of the Naftogaz group due to the occupation of the Crimea are currently estimated by experts at around $5 billion,” said Naftogaz in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement added that the company expected a Hague-based tribunal where the complaint was lodged to issue a ruling on the case by the end of 2018.
Ukraine still protests Crimea’s move to rejoin Russia, which came after a series of political developments in Kiev three years ago. The peninsula, which was part of Russia over 50 years ago, is dominated by ethnic Russians who had been angry at Kiev’s pro-Western policies for years.
Western governments have imposed several rounds of economic and security sanctions on Moscow over what they brand the illegal annexation of Crimea. Ukrainian companies have also turned to international courts to recover damages they sustained after Crimea’s separation while energy contracts, which also cover Crimea, remain one of the most contentious issues between Ukraine and Russia.
Kiev announced in October 2016 that Russia owed Ukraine some $26.6 billion in required sums for the transit of gas and damages related to wrong billing of gas Ukraine never bought. Russia’s energy giant Gazprom said Naftogaz had failed to reimburse $38.7 billion on contracted gas.
Ukrainians have also filed lawsuits against Russian authorities over their alleged involvement in a protracted crisis in eastern Ukraine.