The founder of the private military company Frontier Services Group (FSG) Eric Prince is in talks to buy the Ukrainian manufacturer of aircraft engines “Motor Sich”, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing officials familiar with the situation.
Prince is also an unofficial adviser to us President Donald trump, the newspaper notes. Washington does not want the Ukrainian company and its developments in the defense industry to be acquired by China.
In addition to Prince, the trump administration has asked for help from at least one other potential buyer from the private sector, writes the WSJ. He is an American businessman and Ukrainian-born Maxim Polyakov, co-founder of Texas aerospace company Firefly Aerospace. But Prince in recent weeks has already begun talks with Ukrainian officials and in late October visited the company’s main plant in Ukraine. In addition, at the end of September, the headquarters of “Motor Sich” in Zaporozhye was visited by U.S. attorney in Ukraine bill Taylor and Pentagon spokesman Donald winter.
A Chinese consortium led by Beijing Skyrizon Aviation has already agreed to buy more than 50% of Motor Sich shares. However, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine has not yet approved the deal.
According to the WSJ, in August, during a visit to Kiev, then-trump national security adviser John Bolton tried to convince Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to prevent the purchase of Motor Sich by a Chinese consortium.
Motor Sich used to supply engines for Russian military aircraft and helicopters, but after 2014 suspended cooperation with Russia.
Washington fears that if the company is bought by Chinese investors, its technology may not only go to Beijing, but it will also resume the supply of engines to Russia.
Prince confirmed to the WSJ that he was “going to invest” in Ukraine, but declined further comment. Prince has visited Ukraine at least nine times since the beginning of 2014, when relations between Kiev and Moscow soured due to the annexation of Crimea to Russia and the conflict in the Donbas. At the same time, FSG, registered in Hong Kong, itself cooperates with Chinese companies operating in Africa, the WSJ notes.
Prince also appeared in the investigation of U.S. special Prosecutor Robert Mueller about Russian interference in the presidential election. In April 2019, the house intelligence Committee called on the justice Department to launch an investigation into Prince, accusing him of giving false testimony about a meeting with RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev in Seychelles before trump’s inauguration.