EU executive scratches Russia nuclear sanctions plans
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had urged the EU to sanction Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy company.
The European Commission has abandoned plans to sanction Russia’s nuclear sector or its representatives in its next sanctions package, three diplomats told POLITICO on Thursday.
The EU executive initially told EU countries that it would try to draw up sanctions targeting Russia’s civil nuclear sector. And, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the bloc at least to issue sanctions against Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom.
But that plan has failed, the three diplomats said, pointing to the latest sanctions drafts.
The EU’s sanctions packages are divided into multiple parts: New rules that target specific sectors, such as aviation or military, and lists that impose visa restrictions and asset freezes on individuals and companies — but none include the nuclear sector, according to drafts seen by POLITICO and EU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Unfortunately the nuclear sector is not included in this proposal," said one EU diplomat from a hawkish country.
Hungary has long opposed targeting the nuclear sector, pointing to its dependency on Rosatom. To overcome a potential veto by Hungary, the EU had considered putting individual employees of Rosatom and other companies on the list — but chose in the end not to do so.
"Hungary doesn’t let it through, as their nuclear plant is owned by Rosatom and they say it produces 50 percent of the country’s energy supply. But sanctions against individuals (other than the CEO) should not impact energy security," said a second, senior EU diplomat. "And the EU should respond to Zelenskyy’s ask."
France has also expressed prudence, with a French economy ministry official telling reporters earlier this week that "many nuclear power plants use fuel of Russian energy."
Some EU diplomats expressed disappointment over the move. "It’s sad. When it comes to the nuclear section ... nobody told us that it’s not okay or it will be a problem," said the first EU diplomat. "This is why we’re surprised."