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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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…