The government says the move is aimed at ensuring sufficient supplies for its army to fight Russian forces.
The Ukrainian government says it has invoked wartime laws to control stakes in several “strategically important” companies in order to ensure sufficient supplies for its military to fend off an invasion of Russia.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on Monday announced the ordering of a leading engine maker and four other energy and manufacturing firms from some of the country’s richest men.
He did not say how much bets had been taken, but said that the assets of the five companies would be managed by his ministry to meet “urgent” military needs.
“This is about the provision of fuel and lubricants, repair of military equipment and weapons,” Reznikov said at a press conference, together with Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal and Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.
There was no immediate comment from any of the five companies.
During the conference, Shmyhal said state-controlled companies manufacture products or provide services that are “critical” to Ukraine’s defense and energy needs.
“These companies must operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the needs of the state’s defense,” he said.
The announcement comes as Russia has launched a barrage of air strikes on Ukrainian cities in recent weeks, damaging nearly 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
It was the first time the government had used martial law in such a move since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. It is also the most dramatic wartime intervention in big business, affecting businesses linked to businessmen that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team has long sought to rein in.
At a press conference in the capital, Kyiv, Danilov said that the companies include the aircraft engine maker Motor Sich, which operates from the partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhia region.
“After the lifting of martial law, these assets can be returned to their owners or their value may be compensated,” Danilov added.
Other energy and manufacturing companies include Zaporozhtransformator, AvtoKrAZ, and oil and gas company UkrNafta.
The decision was made at a meeting of senior security officials headed by Zelensky on Saturday and took effect on Sunday.
The companies are partly state-owned and linked to powerful businessmen, including billionaires Ihor Kolomoisky and Kostantin Zivaho, as well as businessman Vyacheslav Bohuslav, who was arrested in October on suspicion of collaborating with Russia.
“This is not a nationalization,” said Reznikov. This is the direct appropriation of assets in wartime. These are completely different legal forms.”
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