SARAJEVO, March 2 (Reuters) – Poland and Ukraine on Thursday called for international sanctions against Russia’s nuclear energy sector, saying they feared their neighbour may hurt energy security and economies in Europe if attacks on Ukrainian power facilities continue.
Last week, the European Union adopted the tenth package of sanctions targeting Russia, but did not include its nuclear energy sector because of opposition from some EU member states.
“If we want to develop nuclear, … we need to suspend Russia in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” Anna Moskwa, the Polish climate and environment minister, said at an energy conference in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.
“We need to end any nuclear cooperation with Russia, … and I believe Europe will manage to do so,” Moskwa said. “Nuclear sanctions next package – this is our future challenge we need to face no matter how difficult it is.”
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Russia occupied Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station exactly one year ago after launching its invasion. The plant, Europe’s largest with six reactors, remains near the front line, with each side accusing the other of shelling it and risking a nuclear accident.
Moskwa said Russia’s occupation of Zaporizhzhia is a “very huge danger to our economies, to our society, to our security”.
“We are neighbouring countries, every day we are analysing what may happen.”
Since October, Russia has been bombing transmission lines and substations of Ukraine’s nuclear plants, leaving millions without power and heating for days in freezing temperatures during winter months.
“We should get rid of Russians in the nuclear sector, in a civilised world they cannot be present as a partner of business,” Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko told the same conference on Wednesday. “They destroy everything, they destroy all seven pillars of nuclear safety and security.”
Ukraine has succeeded in restoring power supplies to its citizens and is now working to rebuild the grid with U.S. partners, taking into account all possible military risks posed by Russia, Galushchenko said at the ministerial meeting of the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy and Climate Cooperation (P-TECC).
Galushchenko said that Ukraine wanted to decentralise the generation of power to make it more difficult for Russians to attack the plants.
Russia formally suspended its participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty on Tuesday, blaming Washington of using it to help Ukraine attack Russian strategic sites.
Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Sharon Singleton
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