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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Westinghouse To Build Nuclear Fuel Production Unit In Ukraine

Nuclear Fuel

The American firm Westinghouse will be building a nuclear fuel production unit in Ukraine in order to help the country reduce its reliance on Russia, according to officials who announced the project on Thursday.

Ukraine, which was formerly a Soviet Republic, has been trying to sever ties with Russia since the February 2014 revolution that tore the country apart. The Kremlin-backed president is now in self-imposed exile in Russia, while pro-European Union forces rule the country.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and a pro-Moscow rebellion ongoing in the eastern part of Ukraine have led Kiev to speed up its efforts to create strong relationships with Western and NATO allies.

Nuclear power dominates Ukraine’s energy grid; however, 95 percent of the fuel used for the plants comes from Russia. Energy minister Igar Nasalyk has announced plans to break the dependence.

Nasalyk visited the United States two months ago in an effort to find new sources of fuel and new forms of energy. Towards the end of his visit, he told reporters that Westinghouse would build a nuclear production factory in Ukraine in the future.

Russia has argued in the past that American fuel would be unsafe for nuclear plants built by Soviet scientists who operated under their own guidelines and standards.

“We have agreed to diversify our sources of fuel delivery to nearly half of our nuclear blocks,” Nasalyk said. “And we agreed (for Westinghouse Electric Sweden) to construct a nuclear fuel production facility on the territory of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s relationship with Russia has been falling apart further in recent days.

The former Soviet state rejected Moscow’s proposed ambassador, Mikhail Babich, after his predecessor stepped down from the position last month.

Babich has held several high-level posts in the Russian government, but the Ukrainian government rejected the candidate without a clear reason for the decision.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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  • Sergei on August 04 2016 said:
    Zainab,

    I have enjoyed reading your articles since you’ve started writing for Oilprice.com. But this one has a lot of inaccuracies. I feel I have to point them out to you.

    1. “… the February 2014 revolution that tore the country apart.” — The revolution did not tear the country apart. It was a popular uprising against incredibly corrupt and incompetent president and his “friends” who were running the country into the ground. The popular uprising was also supported by most Ukrainian oligarchs, not because they were such nice people, but because, as I’ve said, Yanukovych was running the economy into the ground (think Maduro). What “tore the country apart” was Russia’s meddling in Ukrainian politics, followed by an outright occupation of Crimea and a hidden invasion of Donbas. Russia literally tore Ukraine apart. Not revolution.

    2. ”The Kremlin-backed president is now in self-imposed exile in Russia, while pro-European Union forces rule the country.“ — Yanukovych is not a president anymore. In United States, even former presidents are described and addressed as “President”; not so in Europe. Yanukovych is a former president of Ukraine. The acting president of Ukraine is Poroshenko, elected in May 2014. There are no “forces” ruling the country; the country is ruled by a legitimate elected president. Even Russia gave up and recognized Poroshenko as a legitimate president of Ukraine after a couple of months.

    3. “Russia has argued in the past that American fuel would be unsafe for nuclear plants built by Soviet scientists who operated under their own guidelines and standards.” — You mention Russian claim that American fuel is unsafe for Soviet-built reactors. However, you completely fail to mention that said American fuel is already running in Ukraine’s reactors without any problems, and has been running for years! Specifically, Westinghouse fuel is currently running in South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant’s 3rd reactor and Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant’s 5th reactor. In December 2016, Westinghouse fuel will be loaded in SUNPP’s 2nd reactor. Westinghouse started working in Ukraine in 2003, they’ve spent years studying Soviet reactors and creating compatible fuel assembly. Russian claims are classic case of spreading fear, uncertainty, distrust.

    4. “… the Ukrainian government rejected the candidate without a clear reason for the decision” — Not true. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin stated there would be no discussion of the new candidate until the situation in Donbas improves (i.e., Russia removes its special forces troops and military advisers, stops supply of weaponry and ammunition to separatists, and transfers control of the border to Ukrainian border guard).

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