Putin’s war ‘backfiring’ as US strikes nuclear deal with Ukraine in major blow for Kremlin

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US nuclear power company Westinghouse has agreed to supply fuel to all of Ukraine’s atomic power stations. The agreement was signed on June 2 between Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear energy giant, the US company and its Swedish branch. Westinghouse will build nine new nuclear units in the country, as well as set up an engineering centre in Ukraine.

This builds on an earlier commitment from Westinghouse to build five new reactors in the country.

While a large share of Ukraine’s energy comes from the country’s uranium and coal resources, a big bulk is also supplied by Russia.

The country has 15 reactors generating around half of its electricity, most of its nuclear services and it also receives nuclear fuel from Russia.

But amid the brutal war Putin has unleashed since mid-February, Ukraine has been scrambling to wean itself off its neighbour’s supplies and shore up energy security by alternative means.

Westinghouse, which has already been helping the country to reduce its reliance on Moscow, is now helping to slash Kyiv’s reliance on the Kremlin at a faster pace.

The company said in a statement: “In connection with the refusal to purchase Russian nuclear fuel, Energoatom agreed with its strategic partner, Westinghouse, to increase the supply of American nuclear fuel for all Ukrainian nuclear power plants.”

The fuel for the new AP1000 reactors will be supplied at Westinghouse’s fabrication site in Västerås in Sweden.

Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine Tobias Thyberg tweeted: “Swedish Westinghouse agreed today with Energoatom to supply all of Ukraine’s nuclear fuel, so it never again has to import a single fuel rod from Russia.

“One of a million ways that Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine is backfiring on itself.”

Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said: “We will modernise our fleet of nuclear power units, which will produce clean, safe and reliable energy without any Russian influence.”

READ MORE: Chemical fears as 10 million tons of ‘new class’ of gases found in air

There are currently four working nuclear power stations in Ukraine.

Russian troops took over the largest one, Zaporizhzhia, early on in the invasion.

But Ukrainian technicians are reportedly still operating the plant.

Russian soldiers had also taken control of Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster.

Up to 211 workers who maintain the now defunct plant had been taken hostage as part of the Ukraine invasion.

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