First results of wagon nationalisation in Ukraine
Four months ago, on 3 March, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted the law “On Basic Principles of Compulsory Seizure of Property Rights of the Russian Federation in Ukraine”. It provides for the forced seizure of property owned by the Russian Federation and its residents for the benefit of the state of Ukraine. The new legislation also made it possible to nationalise Russian and Belarusian wagons stuck on the Ukrainian railway network. Ukrzaliznytsia, Ukraine’s national railway undertaking, counted more than 15,000 Russian wagons in Ukraine.
In early March, the Russian media found out then that 3,000 wagons, stuck in Ukraine, could be owned by WEB-Leasing, VTB-Leasing, Gazpromtrans, GTLK, and Sberbank Leasing. Citing its own source, the Russian newspaper Vedomosti wrote that about 3,000 wagons could be the property of Globaltrans Group. Novotrans and BaltTransServis could own 1,000 of them each, Eurosib could have in Ukraine about 700 wagons. Also, there were plenty of smaller Russian operators which had a few dozens of wagons each at Ukrainian territory as of the beginning of March. It was also claimed that wagons of two Russian Railways’ subsidiaries were at the risk of appropriation, but this information cannot be confirmed. As a matter of fact, only a few companies officially confirmed they had their wagons in Ukraine at the moment when the railway connection between the two countries ceased.
According to the Ukrainian Railway, the mentioned 15,076 wagons belong to the following types: 10,956 open wagons, 2,057 tank wagons, 587 covered wagons, 158 flat wagons and 1,318 wagons of other types.
The wagons owned by Belarusian operators were also added to the list. It was claimed by Vedomosti that companies from this country could have up to 7,000 wagons on Ukrainian territory. This statement cannot be confirmed or refuted so far as Ukrainian authorities publish the statistics on the seized wagons belonging to Russian and Belarussian companies together.
Snowball of wagon seizure
After the new legislation was signed by president Volodymyr Zelenskyi, the wagon seizures swept like a snowball all over Ukraine. Here are the most massive of them. 100 Belarussian hopper cars filled with potash fertilizers were detained in the Zhytomyr region on 28 March. Also, 191 empty wagons by Russian owners were found there at the beginning of May.
29 LNG tank wagons by Gazpromtrans were detected in late March in Mukachevo near the Hungarian border. 176 railway wagons owned by businessmen from Russia and Belarus were found in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. At the same time, 400 Russian and Belarusian wagons were detected in the Cherkasy region. One of them contained highly valuable items (traction electric motors and their spare parts).
In the first decade of April, the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation detected 2,286 Russian and Belarussian wagons in Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, and 757 wagons (tanks, semi-wagons, covered goods wagons) in Vinnytsia region. 51 Belarusian tank cars filled with diesel fuel were seized in the Chernihiv region on 30 April. As noted, after the Russian invasion, these wagons had been providing logistics for the troops advancing in the direction of Chernihiv and Sumy. On 5 May the court in Kyiv was also reported to have seized 470 wagons containing potash and chark owned by Russian enterprises.
17,800 wagons by mid-May
As of 18 May 2022, the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine reported the seizure of 17,800 wagons that belonged to companies and people from Russia and Belarus in the amount of around 15 billion hryvnia (500 million euros). 1,625 of them contained goods and material values for about 3 billion hryvnia. But Ukrainian authorities did not stop at this milestone.
On 8 June, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office reported the arrest of 420 wagons (total cost of more than 500 million hryvnia) and products worth more than 130 million hryvnia. Both belonged to enterprises from Russia and Belarus. At the end of June, it became known about the seizure of another 94 universal containers belonging to companies controlled by the Russian Federation.
On 4 July, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine announced the seizure of 315 wagons and railway containers with mineral fertilizers belonging to Belarusian and Russian companies. The total value of the seized goods was 12,2 million US dollars. Another 111 Russian and Belarusian wagons with a market value of 80 million hryvnia were arrested on 9 July.