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What’s next for Rosatom? EU sets date for new sanctions as Hungary rules out measures against nuclear cooperation

Calls for expanding EU sanctions to cover Russia’s nuclear industry, including the state-owned Rosatom, have been increasing in the past few months. These calls further intensified following reports on Rosatom’s supply of components, technology and raw materials for missile fuel to the Russian arms industry, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

During a recent visit by senior EU officials, it was confirmed by Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, that the bloc aims to have the 10th sanctions package “in place” by the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine (24 February). Whilst no details on the substance of the package had been revealed, the European Council President, Charles Michel, said that the latest round of punitive measures is “designed to curb Russia’s war machine even further.”

These statements came after a resolution from MEPs in the European Parliament, calling on sanctions on Russian companies such as Rosatom and Lukoil which are “still present on the EU market”, the resolution noted. Indeed, this came together with months of intense campaigning by Ukrainian officials for additional Western sanctions, particularly on the EU’s nuclear cooperation with Russia.

Considering Rosatom’s direct aid to the Russian military, the words of the European Council President may have hinted at plans to sanction the state-owned energy company.

Some EU Member States have already stopped their cooperation with Russia’s energy sector – including the decision by the Finnish Fennovoima to terminate a contract with Rosatom for the planned Khanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant in May 2022. Whilst other EU Members – including those from the CEE region – such as Bulgaria, have taken major steps in recent months to diversify supplies of fresh nuclear fuel from Russia.

However, Hungary has signalled strong opposition to such measures. On 27 January, Hungary’s Foreign and Trade Minister, Péter Szijjártó, said that his country will not support “any proposals by Brussels that make Hungarian-Russian nuclear cooperation harder or render it impossible”, according to the government’s English-speaking website.

The Minister added that his government “welcomes” that the Russian government joins Hungary in assigning great importance to the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant.

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