As the EU looks for new measures to harm the Russian government’s income in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany, Poland, and a few other EU countries are lobbying for restrictions on Russian nuclear energy.
In response to Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine, the 27 European countries have imposed sanctions on Russian seaborne oil, coal, and drastically reduced their purchases of natural gas from Moscow. Some nations, however, feel that more needs to be done.
Robert Habeck, the minister for the environment and the economy of Germany, stated over the weekend that “the EU as a whole must continue to make itself independent from Russia.”
“The nuclear industry is still doing well. That this area continues to receive special treatment is not justifiable. Russia can no longer be viewed as a trustworthy partner in nuclear technology, which is a very delicate field”, he said.
Poland and the Baltic States also demanded restrictions on the import of diamonds from Russia, the provision of information and communication technology services to Russian state-owned businesses, and oil imports through the Druzhba pipeline. These nations are attempting to put more pressure on the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive body and creates sanctions measures that must be approved by various EU governments.
The Royal United Services Institute, a research tank, stated in a report in February that Russia exported components and technology relevant to the nuclear energy sector valued little over $1 billion between March and December 2022.
“This trade comprised exports to NATO and EU members. In fact, not only has the value of Russian nuclear-related exports not decreased since February 2022, but may even be increasing, with a few devoted clients still keen to do business with Russia’s nuclear sector,” the same article claimed.
The year before Russia invaded Ukraine, in 2021, data from Europe’s statistics body Eurostat showed that Moscow was the EU’s third-largest uranium supplier.
Environmental advocacy organizations and Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly criticized the European Union for doing nothing to stop the Kremlin from receiving nuclear profits.
NEW SANCTIONS PACKAGE
In the 14 months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has imposed 10 sets of sanctions, and another one is currently being drafted.
When asked if nuclear energy would be a part of a fresh round of sanctions against Russia, a representative for the European Commission stated that the organization had no comment on ongoing, private discussions.
The representative stated that “the 11th package preparations are ongoing. To have it all done and ready takes time.”
For the EU, where any penalties against Russia require a majority decision, the argument is always complicated. Earlier conversations were more hesitant since Hungary and Bulgaria required more time and convincing.
Hungary’s announcement in August that it would collaborate with Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom to develop two additional reactors served as more evidence of the intricacy of the situation.