Home MOREENERGY Rosatom: why should the Russian nuclear sector be sanctioned? (Part 2)

Rosatom: why should the Russian nuclear sector be sanctioned? (Part 2)

by EUToday Correspondents
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Russian nuclear sector

With many projects abroad, “Rosatom” renders numerous international actors dependent on the Russian nuclear sector.

And so, why is it important to cease these cooperations?

Many countries, mistaking “Rosatom” as a ‘peaceful atom’ operator, allowed the corporation to integrate into their energy markets by constructing and operating nuclear energy facilities, selling nuclear fuel, and establishing close business ties.

Mykhailo Gonchar

Mykhailo Gonchar.

Mykhailo Gonchar, President of the Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”, speaking to UkraineWorld, explained the current state of “Rosatom’s” projects abroad and why it is dangerous to implement them.

The situation in the global energy market remains favourable for “Rosatom”. It has agreements to construct 33 nuclear reactors in ten countries around the globe. Overall, it has orders worth $140 billion. Additionally, “Rosatom” has significantly solidified its position in the Global South, all while it continues to build on its operations in Europe.

Hungary deepens its cooperation with Russia in the nuclear energy sphere. “Rosatom” will complete two nuclear power units, for which all permits have already been obtained.

Slovakia has taken a step back in reducing its dependence on the Russian nuclear sector, with the new government cancelling the plans to change the nuclear fuel supplier, opting to continue its cooperation with “Rosatom.”

The issue here isn’t just about Russia profiting from “Rosatom’s” international operations. When it comes to the construction and exploitation of nuclear facilities, namely power units, Russia gains control over these facilities for at least 70 years.

Thus rendering the technological and technical support during the entire life cycle of a power unit at the mercy of “Rosatom.”

However, some states with nuclear energy sectors developed certain sectoral dependency on “Rosatom”. E.g., the USA and France – both major nuclear powers with their own technologies and power units, have shown an unwillingness to introduce effective sanctions against the Russian corporation due to their dependency on nuclear fuel supplies from Russia.

In the 1990s, when the world believed in Russia’s transformation into a democracy, it let Russia enter the global nuclear materials market. Russia entered it with dumping prices, forcing the American and French nuclear sectors to rely on cheap Russian nuclear fuel.

Russia takes steps to solidify this dependence. For example, France bought uranium-containing raw material from Niger.

After the coup took place there, the Niger junta, supported by Russia, cut off uranium-containing raw material supplies to France, increasing France’s dependency on Russia.

The Russian nuclear lobby employs a variety of various methods of manipulation tactics. For example, acting through the American lobby, the Russian nuclear lobby led to blocking sanctions against “Rosatom” by the Americans under the pretext that switching to alternative nuclear fuel suppliers would cause a hike in prices for electricity generated by nuclear power plants. However, it was demonstrated that the influence on prices would be minimal – a few percent.

Even though the international situation remains still favourable for “Rosatom,” the context has begun to gradually shift, with the US drafting legislation to impose a ban on imports of Russian uranium raw materials and the European institutions advising against a deal with “Rosatom.”

Finland abandoned the Russian project to build a nuclear power plant for the state.

The Czech Republic decided to break ties with the Russian corporation and switch to nuclear fuel from an alternative producer – the Westinghouse Company.

The United Kingdom has become the first state that imposed sanctions on several “Rosatom” companies and individuals.

However, this action may be perceived as a symbolic step, since only four companies out of 435 and 17 individuals have been sanctioned.

“Rosatom” should be sanctioned alongside all its subsidiaries and affiliated companies; otherwise, the corporation will find ways to get around the sanctions regime.

Moreover, the algorithm set by current steps towards sanctions implies a slow process, which would make the environment less favourable for “Rosatom”, but would not create insurmountable barriers.



Read also: Rosatom: Why should the Russian nuclear sector be sanctioned? (Part 1)

“Foreign actors tend to look at “Rosatom” – the only Russian corporation that deals with nuclear energy – through the lens of a ‘peaceful atom’. However, “Rosatom” controls every nuclear-related industry, including the production of nuclear weapons.”


A large number of “Rosatom’s” projects remain on paper.

Construction stages haven’t yet begun. That’s why if states around the globe heed the European Parliament’s recommendations and reject shared projects with “Rosatom”, there could be a positive outcome.

To impose effective sanctions against “Rosatom” a comprehensive approach is required. And serious political will from three leading nuclear states – the USA, the UK, and France – can make it possible.

Refusing Russian nuclear fuel would benefit some Western states.

Cheap Russian nuclear fuel on the global energy market led to the closure of many uranium mining enterprises and uranium mines, including those in the USA.

Refusal of Russian nuclear fuel would let the USA, Canada, and Australia relaunch mining activity.

This approach would limit Russia’s ability to produce nuclear weapons, which is how it achieves strategic stability.

Russian nuclear capabilities are viewed sceptically these days. It has become clear that the narrative about the exceptional power of Russian nuclear weapons’ doesn’t match the reality.

The threat shouldn’t be underestimated, though. If North Korea and Iran – not rich countries – manage to actively develop their nuclear programmes, Russia will have far greater capabilities.

Russia can do whatever it takes to modernise its nuclear potential, even at the expense of its population’s wellbeing, as the example of the Soviet era showed.

That’s why it’s important to prevent it. If effective, strict sanctions aren’t imposed as soon as possible, Russia will have ample opportunities to develop new models of nuclear weapons, increasing the level of strategic instability.

And Washington will keep dreaming about finding ways to reach ‘strategic stability’…


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