Ukraine's Naftogaz company has begun the process of trying to recover the billions of dollars it is owed by Russia's giant state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom, due to an arbitration-court verdict.
Naftogaz said on May 30 that it was seeking to legally acquire Gazprom shares of stock and other assets in European countries to gain some of the $2.6 billion from Gazprom that Naftogaz was awarded in March by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
Naftogaz said it was working in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Britain to gain Gazprom assets in those countries.
Gazprom -- which has thus far refused to pay the award -- has pledged to challenge the attempts to acquire its assets in court by making counterclaims against Naftogaz.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Facebook that he ordered Naftogaz to expand its efforts to other European countries in an effort to recoup the award from Gazprom.
"The process of the enforcement of recovery of $2.6 billion from Gazprom has been moved to practice," he said, adding that he had held a meeting with Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolev. "My clear order is that we must not stop on these three countries and do our best to ensure the arrival of awarded funds to Ukraine."
Poroshenko said the assets Naftogaz would seek to acquire would include shares in the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipelines.
"I do not exclude including the shares of Nord Stream, Nord Stream 2, and cash that have high liquidity and will quickly ensure implementation of the decisions," Poroshenko said.
Jens Mueller, a Nord Stream 2 spokesman, said on May 30 that a freezing of the company's shares would not affect its operations.
He said Nord Stream 2 headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, had the previous day received a "freezing order in respect to claims of debts against Gazprom."
"We don't comment on details of this legal procedure. It doesn't have an impact on the Nord Stream 2 project," Mueller said.
The Swedish arbitration court's decision awarded Naftogaz $2.56 billion, but nearly $50 million more has been added to the award in interest because of Gazprom's failure to pay the award.
Gazprom and Naftogaz filed multibillion-dollar cases against each in the Swedish court in 2014.
Naftogaz has argued it was owed compensation from Gazprom due to the Russian firm's failure to send certain quantities of gas annually, as contractually agreed, and of paying Naftogaz too little for the gas that transited through the Ukrainian company's pipelines.