A Ukrainian service person during Rapid Trident 2016 international team and staff drill in Yavoriv training range in the Lviv Region. Stringer/Sputnik via AP
A Ukrainian service person during Rapid Trident 2016 international team and staff drill in Yavoriv training range in the Lviv Region. Stringer/Sputnik via AP (Stringer)

Covington & Burling has secured a $6.31 million contract to represent Ukraine’s state-run oil company Naftogaz in an arbitration dispute against the Russian government over its 2014 incursion into Crimea.

Led by partners David Pinsky in New York, Marney Cheek in Washington, D.C., and Jeremy Wilson in London, Covington represents Naftogaz as it pursues claims that Russia took steps to wrest away the Ukrainian oil and gas company’s assets in Crimea. Naftogaz announced the arbitration in October under a bilateral investment treaty between Ukraine and Russia, saying Russia’s actions in Crimea caused at least $2.6 billion in damages to Naftogaz and six subsidiaries.

The engagement and Covington’s contract were reported earlier by Ukraine’s Interfax news agency, which said Covington’s contract was set to run until Dec. 31, 2017. The contract’s dollar value is also noted on the Ukrainian government’s public procurement disclosure site, Prozorro. A Covington spokesman declined to comment on the Naftogaz engagement.

Naftogaz claims that in 2014, Russia illegally invaded and occupied Crimea, a peninsula that juts into the Black Sea south of Ukraine. In the process, Naftogaz alleges, Russia engaged in a scheme to seize assets in the region from Ukrainian companies.

“Naftogaz owned some of the most valuable energy assets in Crimea and was among the Russian Federation’s chief targets,” the company said in an Oct. 19 statement about the arbitration against Russia. “The Russian Federation’s actions violated the Russia-Ukraine bilateral investment treaty, which requires the Russian Federation to respect and protect Ukrainian-owned assets, including those in Crimea.”

Covington’s role for Naftogaz follows previous work the firm has done in Ukraine, which has faced internal political turmoil and conflict with Russia over the past several years. The unrest in Ukraine, particularly the flare-up in 2014 over Russia’s occupation of Crimea, also resulted in legal work and had other implications for a slew of global law firms.

Covington was previously tapped for an assignment after former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was arrested on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power. Tymoshenko maintained that the charges were motivated by her political rivalry with Viktor Yanukovych, who would become Ukraine’s president.

After Tymoshenko’s arrest, Covington was tasked with reviewing a 2010 report that described her alleged wrongdoing. The firm eventually issued a report, concluding that there was no evidence that Tymoshenko abused her position of power and that her prosecution was, in fact, politically motivated.

In 2011, however, Tymoshenko was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. She was released in 2014, when Yanukovych was ousted as Ukraine’s president.

Contact Scott Flaherty at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.