Kiev must loosen Moscow’s grip on the nuclear energy market to pave the way for new Western sanctions, the energy minister has declared.
Ukraine intends to increase domestic uranium production in an attempt to elbow Russia out of the global nuclear fuel market, Energy Minister German Galushchenko has said. His comments come after several Western nations announced a coalition – described by Moscow as “unstable” – to achieve the same goal.
Galushchenko lamented that Russia still controls a significant part of the world’s uranium market and has many contracts with companies worldwide. He described this factor as a significant obstacle for the West to impose new sanctions on Moscow.
“But we are working hard to drive them out of this market, as well as to increase uranium production in Ukraine.” Galushchenko stated in a post by Ukraine’s Energy Ministry on Facebook published on Saturday.
The minister also noted that Ukraine is cooperating with several companies – in particular, Canada-based CAMECO – to achieve this goal. Under an agreement with the company, Kiev recently sent CAMECO the first batch of uranium mined at the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant (EMPP) in the Dnepropetrovsk region, the country’s only facility specializing in mining and processing this type of material.
Galushchenko has previously said that Kiev and CAMECO are working together to modernize Ukraine’s uranium industry, with plans for the latter to fully meet the needs of Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear power agency, for uranium hexafluoride, a compound necessary for the production of nuclear fuel. In exchange, Energoatom promised to sell all the uranium mined by EMPP to Canada.
Ukraine first announced plans to phase out Russian nuclear fuel and replace it with supplies from Western countries after the Maidan coup in Kiev in 2014. As part of this push, earlier this month Ukraine received the first batch of nuclear fuel from the Swedish affiliate of US-based atomic energy company Westinghouse .
In addition, the US, UK, Canada, Japan and France announced in April an alliance aimed at displacing Russia from the international nuclear energy market, as well “support a stable supply of fuel for today’s needs.”
However, Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, noted that none of the participating countries have the capacity to fully produce nuclear fuel on their own, adding that the supply chains between them are extremely fragile and inefficient. Against this background, Rosatom stamped the agreement “an attempt to assemble a ‘Frankenstein monster’ in the nuclear fuel segment.”