Slovakia Accepts Russian Plane with Nuclear Fuel Despite Sanctions

A Russian aircraft carrying nuclear fuel for two Slovak nuclear power plants landed at Bratislava airport on the morning of March 1 despite the ban on Russian planes from entering Slovak airspace.

Slovakian Economy Ministry confirmed the information explaining that the fuel the plane carried is part of the efforts to secure Slovakia’s resources in the event of problems with fuel supplies from Russia.

Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) pointed out that Slovakia’s economy has now secured another strategic commodity – an energy carrier – after gas and oil since the country is fully dependent on Russian nuclear fuel.

However, he didn’t specify how long these reserves are supposed to last.

Explaining that there are exemptions to the ban for nuclear fuel and humanitarian aid, Sulik informed that the plane traveled via Belarus and Poland, which has also closed its airspace to Russian planes.

Volga Dnepr Airlines cargo plane has been given an exemption as it was carrying nuclear fuel for Mochovce and Jaslovské Bohunice, Slovakia’s two nuclear power plants situated in western Slovakia.

Considering the fact that nuclear fuel production is an extremely difficult process, the nuclear fuel market is small. The European market is dominated by the Russian company TVEL and US company Westinghouse although American fuel is generally more expensive which has led to Westinghouse losing the public procurement for Mochovce power plant in 2018.

Slovakia’s nuclear power plants Jaslovské Bohunice and Mochovce have six reactors in total that are currently in operation – two remain under construction – and they all use Russian fuel from the TVEL company that has a contract with Slovakia that will run until 2026.

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