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Ukraine in last-ditch appeal for EU sanctions to target Russia’s nuclear industry

Ukraine in last-ditch appeal for EU sanctions to target Russia’s nuclear industry

by host

BRUSSELS — The EU’s 10th round of sanctions against Russia must focus on the nuclear industry, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko told POLITICO today, as the bloc finalizes the package of sanctions that will mark the first anniversary of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“We really need to change the narrative on Rosatom and on [the] Russian nuclear industry,” Svyrydenko said in an interview in Brussels, where she met EU diplomats putting the finishing touches on measures aimed at putting the brakes on Putin’s war machine. Rosatom is a state civil nuclear power company.

The Ukrainian appeal came after Putin announced Tuesday that Moscow would suspend its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, fueling concerns in the West that, with his troops bogged down on the battlefield, Putin may resort to nuclear escalation.

Russia will halt its participation in the New START Treaty, Putin announced in a Kremlin address that was dominated by anti-West rhetoric and featured no sign that he plans to change course on Ukraine, where he has waged all-out war for the last year. 

The lack of clear messages on sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry gives Putin the freedom to conduct nuclear arms tests, said Svyrydenko, who is also Ukraine’s minister for economic development and trade.

This was another example of Russia acting “like a terrorist country,” she told POLITICO. “That’s why I think that it should be in [the] sanction package.”

Lithuania had led calls for the latest sanctions package to include measures targeting the Russian nuclear industry, with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis telling POLITICO on the sidelines of last week’s Munich Security Conference that he saw “a way for Rosatom to be added.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to sanction the Russian nuclear energy giant when EU leaders visited Kyiv in early February. But Hungary — which depends on Russia to keep its nuclear power sector operating — has held out against their inclusion, according to EU diplomats with direct knowledge of the discussions. There are no sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry included in the draft package.

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