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The Dream of NuScale Small Nuclear Reactors Hangs in the Balance

Wired, 27 Feb 23

A cluster of reactors that are just 9 feet in diameter is supposed to start a nuclear energy resurgence. Mounting costs may doom the project.

JORDAN GARCIA, A deputy utilities manager in Los Alamos, New Mexico, is facing an energy crunch that is typical in the American West. For decades, the county-run utility relied on a cheap and steady mix of coal and hydroelectric power. But the region’s dams are aging and drought-parched, and its coal plants are slated to retire.

The county is aiming to fully decarbonize its grid by 2040, and the city has been tapping more solar lately, but batteries are arriving slowly, and Garcia worries about heat waves that strain the grid after the sun goes down. Wind power? He’d take more of it. But there aren’t enough wires stretching from the state’s windy eastern plains to the mesa-top community. “For us it’s pretty dire,” he says.

For the past few years, Garcia has been counting on a unique nuclear experiment to come to the rescue. In 2017, Los Alamos signed up to join a group of other local utilities as an anchor customer of the first small modular reactors, or SMRs, in the US, created by a company called NuScale. The design, which calls for reactors only 9 feet in diameter, had never been built before, but the initial cluster planned in Idaho Falls, Idaho, was promised to be much cheaper than a full-scale reactor and to offer affordable carbon-free energy 24/7.

To Garcia, this felt like a homecoming. Los Alamos, a town with the motto “Where discoveries are made,” is the birthplace of the atom bomb, and experimental reactors ran not far from downtown for much of the 20th century. But it had never actually used nuclear power to keep the lights on.

This month, Los Alamos and other local utilities across the West were facing a weighty decision: whether to pull the plug on their nuclear dream. NuScale had informed members of the group, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS, that the estimated costs of building the six 77-MW reactors had risen by more than 50 percent to $9.3 billion. For Garcia, that translated into a jump in the cost of energy from $58 to $89 per megawatt-hour.

…………… Without extra subsidies from the new Inflation Reduction Act—on top of $1.4 billion already committed to the project by the US Department of Energy—the price to energy users in places like Los Alamos would have doubled.

…………. The project’s power output is only 20 percent subscribed, and UAMPS says it will need to reach 80 percent for planning and construction to proceed next year.

Many a “nuclear renaissance” has fizzled.

…………….. Only two [large nuclear] reactors are being built in the US: a pair of 1100-MW units at the Vogtle plant in Georgia, now seven years delayed and $20 billion over their $14 billion budget. 

NuScale hopes its smaller reactors can avoid that fate……… Last month, the company was the first of dozens of companies working on SMRs to have a design approved by US regulators. That makes NuScale first in the race to leap from a “paper napkin” reactor, as critics sometimes deride SMRs, to a real one, though the Idaho project involves a revised design that will need its own approval.

The project has hit roadblocks before. It began with 36 utilities signed on, but that number has fluctuated and dropped to 27 last year. In 2020, several municipal utilities dropped out in response to a construction delay and cost increases. Some later rejoined the project after the US Department of Energy upped its commitment to offset some of the costs.

Critics say those price revisions are a sign SMRs are heading down the same path as projects like Vogtle. For nearly a century, the nuclear power industry’s mantra was that building bigger plants would drive down costs. While existing plants aged and new construction withered, SMR companies began promoting a different philosophy, says David Schlissel, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Fiscal Analysis, claiming that constructing many small reactors would teach builders how to make them more cheaply.

But the evidence for progress is flimsy, says Schlissel, who notes that his 50-year career has spanned many a “nuclear renaissance” that fizzled. When that philosophy was applied in France, where dozens of reactors were built in the 1980s, costs still increased. Claims that “modularity” will help make construction construction more efficient are also suspect, he adds. The new Vogtle reactors involved nearly 1,500 “modular” components that were largely constructed offsite.

Schlissel also believes that NuScale’s current estimates are rosy because they rely on the approval of its newer design that uses less steel, one of the materials driving the cost increases. But regulators may not back that approach, he says.  Towns should get out while they can, he advises, before costs climb higher still, and seek out alternatives like geothermal and battery storage. “Let the buyer beware,” he says.

……………….. officials in Morgan, Utah, a small town in the Wasatch Mountains north of Salt Lake City, decided to make a quick exit from the project…….

This year, the city realized it had new alternatives to the rising costs of nuclear power. While the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to help offset the costs of the Idaho plant, it also includes funds to help rural communities start their own energy projects. Bailey wants the city to become more self-reliant, installing its own solar panels and batteries that reserve power overnight.

In this round, Morgan was the only defector, though another Utah city, Parowan, reduced its commitment from 3 MW to 2 MW—just enough to cover the loss of its coal power. But the new agreement with utilities, negotiated during a two-day meeting with UAMPS members this winter, sets the project under a ticking clock. It includes requirements that the price hold steady at $89 per megawatt-hour, and—most worrying to utilities that want the project to succeed—that the project be at least 80 percent subscribed by next year. If it doesn’t hit that threshold, towns will get a refund on most of their expenses so far.

At this point, the utilities have sunk relatively little of their own money into the project, but that will change in 2024 as the project begins to seek site-specific building approvals followed by actual construction. To get the project fully subscribed, the group is talking with utilities elsewhere in the Northwest, where NuScale is competing with other SMR startups, including the Bill Gates–backed TerraPower, which recently signed a feasibility agreement with PacifiCorp, a private utility. Webb of UAMPS says he is optimistic about where the negotiations are headed. 

…………………….. For now, the Los Alamos county council voted to formalize a long-planned increase of their share of the NuScale plant’s power, from 1.8 MW to 8.6 MW. Garcia hopes it will help encourage other utilities to take a chance on sparking a nuclear renaissance.


February 28, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 3 Comments

France pushing hard to make the European Union a pro-nuclear organisation

France seeks ‘nuclear alliance’ at EU energy meeting


France is building an alliance of pro-nuclear states to advocate for expanding nuclear power in the bloc.

EU energy ministers are meeting on Monday and Tuesday (27 and 28 February) to discuss issues ranging from security of supply to the upcoming electricity market reform.

But on the sidelines, French energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runache has invited 12 other countries on Tuesday to discuss a “nuclear alliance.”

“I would like to remind you that nuclear power represents 25 percent of European electricity production”, said Pannier-Runache. “It will be one of the important low-carbon energy sources next to wind and solar power that will help us achieve carbon neutrality.”

She later explained that the meeting would be an occasion to discuss “research, supply chain and nuclear waste issues.”

Countries in attendance include traditionally pro-nuclear members Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Finland. Newly-joined Croatia, plus the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden will also attend.

It is the latest move in an ongoing spat with Germany which is phasing out nuclear power and whose negotiators have stressed nuclear electricity should not be equated to electricity derived from solar and wind.

Other countries not attending the meeting include Belgium and Luxembourg, whose energy minister Claude Turmes said nuclear power “is very slow.”

“It takes 12 to 15 years to build a new nuclear facility,” he said. “If we want to win the race against climate change, we need to be fast.”

The French meeting follows intense French lobbying to include nuclear power in a recent EU Commission rules for green hydrogen, which is made with electricity derived from wind and solar but now also allows nuclear power as energy source………….

February 28, 2023 Posted by | France, politics international | Leave a comment

South Korea, France keen to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia (no connection with nuclear weapons OF COURSE!)

Saudi Arabia moves forward with bids for nuclear plant

The kingdom has received bids to build its first nuclear power plant and South Korea is reportedly expressing interest.

AL-MONITOR, February 27, 2023

Saudi Arabia is progressing with its plans to build its first nuclear power plant and has received a number of bids. 

The Saudi Ministry of Finance’s 2023 budget statement published Feb. 15 notes that bids to build the plant were received last December, reported the Dubai-based business intelligence outlet Middle East Economic Digest on Monday. 

Background: Saudi Arabia has had an interest in nuclear power for decades. The kingdom was a major investor in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program that began in the 1970s, for example. In 2009, the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz told the Obama administration that the country would obtain nuclear weapons of its own if Iran were to do so. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the same thing to the US news outlet CBS. 

More recently, Saudi Arabia has been considering developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In 2018, the Saudi government announced its intention to add nuclear power to its energy mix. 

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions have been gaining momentum. Korea JoongAng Daily reported in November that South Korea was interested in building Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear power plant. 

Last December, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held a nuclear law workshop with Saudi officials in Riyadh. The IAEA’s purpose was to “support the implementation of its nuclear energy program in a safe, secure and transparent manner,” according to a press release. 

In early February, Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding with France on energy cooperation. The memo noted nuclear energy as well as hydrogen and electricity interconnection, the official Saudi Press Agency reported………………

February 28, 2023 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Shhhh – don’t mention the Russian connection. We all hate Russia – Don’t we? — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

Originally posted on Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole: Russian Government has a large slice of West Cumbria Mining New Director’s Coal Pie. Our government are ignoring calls for diplomatic negotiations with Russia to take precedent over increasingly dangerous (and lucrative) war games while endorsing developments with ties to the Russian government. ?Makes no sense…

Shhhh – don’t mention the Russian connection. We all hate Russia – Don’t we? — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Atomic Hell Arrives at Hinkley While The Nuclear Industry Calls Itself Clean and Folk are Directed to Campaign Elsewhere. — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

Article from The Construction Index Hinkley Point C’s first reactor arrives on site [– with video]  The first new nuclear reactor for a British power station for more than 30 years has arrived in Somerset. With the cranes of Hinkley Point C in the background, the 500-tonne load completes the last few miles of its […]

New Atomic Hell Arrives at Hinkley While The Nuclear Industry Calls Itself Clean and Folk are Directed to Campaign Elsewhere. — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trudeau sends more German tanks to Ukraine — Anti-bellum

Defense PostFebruary 27, 2023 Canada Sending Four More Leopard Tanks to Ukraine Canada is sending four additional battle tanks to Ukraine – doubling its commitment – and sanctioning an additional 192 Russian individuals and entities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. “Canada has stood in solidarity with Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict,” Trudeau […]

Trudeau sends more German tanks to Ukraine — Anti-bellum

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukrainian Army War Crimes Include Shelling of Ambulances, Firetrucks, and Rescue Workers in the Donbass Republics

Ukrainian Army War Crimes Include Shelling of Ambulances, Firetrucks, and Rescue Workers in the Donbass Republics—Similar to Israelis and U.S. Backed Terrorists in Syria

Local residents describe the perpetrators of these crimes—who have received lavish U.S. funding—as “shameless,” “scumbags” and “terrorists.”

Heroic rescue workers in Donbas should be accorded rights under international law to help people without being targeted.

Covert Action Magazine, Eva Bartlett, 27 Feb 23
In the more than eight years of bombing the civilians of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Ukraine has committed untold numbers of war crimes. These include bombing residential areas, marketshospitals, schools, parks—including with prohibited heavy weapons and banned cluster munitions—and, since late July, raining banned “Petal” mines down on populated civilian areas, including the very center of Donetsk, including as recently as September 7.

A lesser-known war crime is Ukraine’s routine targeting of ambulances, fire trucks, medics and rescuers, and their headquarters and stations. Many of the times Ukraine bombs such heroic rescuers, it is when they are on the way, or already on site, to help civilians often themselves just bombed by Ukraine.

On August 21, Ukrainian shelling of the DPR’s Gorlovka wounded twelve, including five firefighters.

The day prior, Ukrainian shelling targeted an ambulance station in the LPR’s Lysychansk, wounding several and damaging some of the ambulances.

On June 23, the Kievskiy District of Donetsk came under repeated shelling over the course of the two hours I was visiting the Emergency Services headquarters there. On the grounds, I saw the remnants of a “Hurricane” missile from a previous Ukrainian attack.

The previous day, Ukrainian forces targeted an Emergency Services fire truck on call, leaving the driver hospitalized in critical condition. According to his colleagues, they saw a drone above them just prior to Ukraine’s strike. The targeting was unquestionably deliberate.

On June 18, Ukraine targeted a central Donetsk district after Emergency Services had arrived, killing a firefighter and the driver, and injuring three more rescuers.

In early June, heavy Ukrainian shelling of Kuibyshevsky District, Donetsk, destroyed an ambulance and seriously injured the driver.

Ukraine’s attacks on emergency workers is not new; Ukraine has been doing so for years.

In June 2021, during a humanitarian cease-fire, Ukrainian forces targeted an ambulance which had arrived to evacuate three injured DPR soldiers.

In October 2019, Ukrainian forces fired an anti-tank guided missile at a DPR military ambulance en route to help a child, wounding the driver and a paramedic.

In August 2018, Ukrainian forces fired a missile at a DPR ambulance, killing the driver and two female paramedics.

When I first visited the DPR in September 2019, going to hard-hit areas around Gorlovka, I was told by Zaitsevo administration that ambulances could not reach the villagers.

“The paramedics don’t go farther than this building; it’s too dangerous. If somebody needs medical care near the front lines, someone has to go in their own car and take them to a point where medics can then take them to Gorlovka. The soldiers also help civilians who are injured.”

This is something I was very familiar with in Gaza, occupied Palestine, where Israeli soldiers routinely fire at Palestinian farmers and other laborers on agricultural land, a policy of harassment to drive Palestinians off their land. In most cases, ambulances likewise could not reach the injured due to Israel’s policy of targeting ambulances. Consequently, seriously injured Palestinians bleed to death.

In Zaitsevo, I was told this had happened there, too. “A woman died due to huge blood loss because no one could reach her house to take her away in time. She was injured in the shelling and bled to death.”

Targeting medics and other rescuers ensures those in need of help are deprived of it, and increases the likelihood that people who might have lived instead die of their injuries.

The intentional targeting of ambulances and medics, as well as fire trucks and other emergency services vehicles and workers, is against international law.

Speaking to DPR Rescuers

During my last two visits to the DPR, in June and August 2022, I interviewed a number of Emergency Services workers and medics.

According to Konstantin Zhukov, the Chief Medical Officer of Donetsk Ambulance Services, the ambulance services workers face shelling daily, constantly, and many employees have been wounded while working. One of the ambulance stations was completely destroyed by Ukrainian shelling.

Outside, I spoke with Tatyana Golota, an emergency physician, and Alena Kondrasheva, a paramedic.

Both reiterated that it is normal coming under repeated Ukrainian fire. They spoke of Ukraine shelling after medics and emergency services workers had arrived to help civilians.

They showed me an ambulance completely destroyed by Ukrainian shelling. It was new and had only been operational a few months before being destroyed.

That day we were at work and heard about the brigade coming under fire. The doctor had gone to help people, and the driver, by chance, walked away to try to get a mobile signal. At that moment, there was a direct hit on the vehicle.”

Also in Donetsk, I spoke with Sergei Neka, Director of the Department of Fire and Rescue Forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

He likewise said rescuers increasingly come under fire when they go out on a call, sometimes making it impossible to reach the people in need………………………………………………………………………………………………

Of Ukraine’s heightened shelling over the past many months, Levchenko said it was constant and daily. “Before, if we speak about 2014-2015, twenty minutes, one hour maximum. Now six-seven hours non-stop, every day.”

He said that the Ukrainian forces shell, wait until rescuers arrive and then shell again. “They wait for 30 minutes for us to arrive. We arrive there, start assisting people, and the shelling resumes.”

This is something I witnessed for myself when, on August 4, Ukraine bombed the hotel in which I was staying, the fourth and fifth shells landing 50 meters away and then directly beside the hotel, respectively. When the fifth struck, shattering inwards the lobby glass doors, I had fortunately just stepped out of the lobby where 30 seconds earlier I had been speaking to journalists who had run in from the street.

When it seemed the shelling had stopped, journalists went outside to document the damage. Sadly, a young woman outside the hotel had been killed by the shelling. Five others just two streets away were also torn apart by the bombs, including a promising 12-year-old ballerina, her grandmother, and her world famous former ballerina ballet teacher.

Emergency Services arrived and, not long after, Ukraine resumed its shelling. Fortunately, they were able to get inside, but this is just one example of Ukraine’s double strikes.

According to Levchenko, Ukraine does not only shell two times, but that they sometimes shell three times: “They wait again, our guys hide in the shelters, as soon as we go out, put out the fire, help people, there could be people under the debris, doors stuck, people can’t get out and get to the basement…then shelling resumes.”

He described the people engaging in this sort of warfare against civilians and rescuers as “Shameless. Scumbags. Terrorists.”

He is not wrong.

Targeting Rescuers: A Terrorist Tactic Adopted by U.S. Allies in Ukraine, Israel and Syria…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Ukraine Continues Killing Donbas Rescuers

On September 1, 13 DPR Emergency workers were killed and 9 injured from Ukrainian shelling. According to a representative of the Emergency Situations, the shelling was intentional.

“The missiles exactly hit residential buildings. The vehicle was outside and it was hit with shrapnel and pieces of the destroyed building. But again, you can see it’s an emergency vehicle—a fire vehicle. This is a war crime.”

The following day, two more Emergency Services workers were killed and two injured by Ukrainian shelling of their fire truck, in Makeevka. They were en route to put out a fire. Images accompanying the news show a mangled bright red fire truck, unmistakably a rescue services vehicle.

When in August I spoke with the Director of the Donetsk Department of Fire and Rescue of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, he told me that, at that time, four Emergency Services workers had been killed and 40 injured by Ukrainian shelling.

With Ukraine’s targeting of Emergency Services in September, the number of rescuers Ukraine has killed is now at least 19, with another 51 injured……………………………………………………………………….

The Kievskiy Emergency Ministry Chief, Andrey Levchenko, said of the rescuers, “They are all heroes. If it were possible, I would give a medal to every one of them, to honor their work, to support them. But they don’t do that for the medals, no way. Nobody ever said, ‘we’re not going, we don’t want to,’” he said, referring to when rescuers go out on calls.

He is right. These rescuers are heroes, putting their lives on the line every time they go out to help a person in need, knowing full well Ukraine frequently strikes an area a second and a third time, specifically to target rescuers. While they might not receive or want medals, they should be afforded their right under international law to rescue people without fear of being shelled by Ukraine.

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization looks to First Nations to back waste storage, AND small nuclear reactors

Ontario sites short-listed for nuclear waste storage, The organization developing a place to store spent nuclear fuel in Canada has settled on two potential sites in Ontario. The move rules out 20 other potential sites across Canada, including three in northern Saskatchewan.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization recently announced the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario, and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario, are both under consideration.

“These communities are now working through their timelines to determine willingness,” Russell Baker, manager of media relations for the NWMO, said in an e-mail.

Baker said the NWMO hopes to settle on one of the two Ontario sites by the fall of 2024, but only “with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities are working together to implement it.”

Disposing of spent nuclear fuel has been an issue for the nuclear industry for decades. A variety of countries, including Canada, are looking at deep geological repositories, where the waste can be safely stored for thousands of years within stable rock formations, like the Precambrian Shield. Finland is already building one.

Back in 2010, the NWMO announced there were 22 potential sites for underground storage across Canada, including sites near Pinehouse, English River First Nation, and Creighton, in northern Saskatchewan.

According to Guy Lonechild, executive director of the First Nations Power Authority (FNPA), coming up with a shortlist of potential sites is another step.

“There were some previous sites looked at in northern Saskatchewan but there’s been a lot of time and energy put into a deep geological repository in the province of Ontario. And those are the two viable options that that we would support for further study,” Lonechild, who is also a former FSIN chief, said.

Lonechild added the FNPA has been looking seriously at the possibility of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNR) for Indigenous and northern communities for several years.

……………. However, even though SMR’s are relatively small, the cost could easily be a billion dollars or more. Which is why FNPA would be looking for partnerships to help Indigenous communities get involved.

“So it is going to take a significant amount of capital. And so we’re looking at developing consortium groups to participate on an equity basis.”

………………….. “The only way we’re going to get there is if First Nations that are informed, that give free prior informed consent. And they identify ways that they want to participate in, in clean energy jobs and in the nuclear industry,” he said.

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

Russian nuclear energy diplomacy and its implications for energy security in the context of the war in Ukraine

Nature, Kacper Szulecki & Indra Overland 27 Feb 23


Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the possibility of reducing Europe’s energy dependence on Russian resources has been hotly debated. The fossil fuel industries received most attention as European Union leaders first introduced gradual sanctions on Russian coal and later on oil and gas, while Russia responded with supply cuts. However, Russia’s role as a major player in the global nuclear power sector has remained largely below the sanctions radar, despite dependencies on Russian nuclear technology, uranium supplies and handling of spent nuclear fuel. Here we analyse the state nuclear company Rosatom and its subsidiaries as tools of Russian energy statecraft. We map the company’s global portfolio, then categorize countries where Russia is active according to the degree and intensity of dependence. We offer a taxonomy of long-term energy dependencies, highlighting specific security risks associated with each of them. We conclude that the war and Russia’s actions in the energy sector will undermine Rosatom’s position in Europe and damage its reputation as a reliable supplier, but its global standing may remain strong.

…………………………………………………………Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, second-largest exporter of oil and third-largest exporter of coal8. However, media coverage and political debates have generally omitted another sector where Russia is a major player and that is vital for Russia’s global economic and diplomatic posture: nuclear energy. While the Russian shelling and takeover of Ukrainian nuclear power plants has caused an outcry, Russia’s portfolio of foreign orders, including reactor construction, fuel provision and other services, spans 54 countries and is claimed by Rosatom to be worth more than US$139 billion over a ten year period9 and has thus far not been covered by Western sanctions. Although the financial figure is in all likelihood inflated, Russia’s involvement in and use of nuclear energy as a tool of energy diplomacy deserves scrutiny.

In this Analysis, we present a dataset of all current and planned international engagements of the Russian nuclear energy supplier Rosatom and its subsidiaries AtomStroyExport and TVEL. The dataset includes information on the different types of agreement, business models, scales of investments, types of reactor being built or planned and their nameplate capacity. As a gauge of the level of dependency upon the Russian nuclear sector that is or will be brought about by these reactors, we registered their share of the future electricity supply in the countries where they are located or planned for construction. Because the degree of influence achieved through energy statecraft is conditioned by the character and level of (inter)dependence, we discuss the firmness of dependence of different client states, formulated as ‘intensity.’ Finally, we propose a categorization of dependency types (Methods).

Rosatom’s rise, expansion and comparative advantages

Rosatom—the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation—is the direct heir to the Soviet Ministry of Atomic Energy, which was established in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Reorganized as a state corporation in 2007, Rosatom is fully owned by the Russian state, and the president of the Russian Federation determines the company’s objectives10,11. Since its inception, Rosatom has become increasingly active in the international nuclear power market12,13 and has become a leading provider of key services12,14,15. Construction of as many as ten reactor units started between 2007 and 2017, and between 2009 and 2018, the company accounted for 23 of 31 orders placed and about a half of the units under construction worldwide11. Through its subsidiary TVEL, Rosatom also provides fuel supplies, controlling 38% of world’s uranium conversion and 46% of uranium enrichment capacity16,17 in addition to decommissioning and waste disposal. In sum, Russia was the supplier in around half of all international agreements on nuclear power plant construction, reactor and fuel supply, decommissioning or waste between 2000 and 2015. Its main nuclear power competitors—China, France, Japan, Korea and the United States—accounted for another 40%, combined18.

…………………………………………. Rosatom’s main advantage lies in its capacity to be a ‘one stop nuclear shop’ for all needs, the only supplier providing an ‘all-inclusive package’12. This comprises reactor construction know-how, training, support related to safety, non-proliferation regime requirements and flexible financing options, including government-sourced credit lines22. The company is also uniquely able to offload spent nuclear fuel from overseas customers.

The way Rosatom designs its projects also makes it a convenient partner for nuclear newcomers23,24. While details of contractual agreements vary from case to case, the developer takes care of the entire process until the plant is ready to use and can be handed over to local (Russian-trained) nuclear experts to operate. For that reason, nuclear energy can be considered by countries for which it was previously unattainable, especially in the Middle East25,26, sub-Saharan Africa27,28 and South America.29

Rosatom is also able to make special offers to strategically important partners, such as Turkey30,31. ………………………………….

Its comparative advantages as a supplier allowed Russia to launch a global campaign of nuclear energy diplomacy33 in which Rosatom and Russian government institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs work in tandem. This potentially gives Russia the capacity to use the broad network of international projects it is involved in34 and the direct control over reactors and strategic energy infrastructure to exert political pressure and to project power globally35.

Minin and Vlček, having studied the behaviour of Rosatom and its relationship with the Russian state, argue that the company is primarily a profit-seeking entity with a high degree of autonomy and growing self-sufficiency15. According to Thomas, whatever its grandiose expectations, Rosatom could simply be unable to deliver all the projects that it has agreed to, let alone expand further13. On the other hand, Aalto et al. observe that ‘potential foreign policy influence’ by Russia was noted by Finnish and Hungarian opponents of collaboration with Rosatom33, while Jewell and colleagues argue that some nuclear sector dependencies display more pervasive energy security impacts, long-lasting and difficult to deal with (due to lack of flexibility) than those usually analysed by energy security experts in the petroleum sector18,36.

Here we consider Rosatom’s potential as a tool for the Russian state and debate whether this constitutes a ‘nuclear energy weapon’ or simply a projection of soft-power diplomacy. We find that Russian nuclear energy statecraft can be seen as a spectrum between these two extremes, but that soft-power diplomacy creates dependencies that can be further expanded and exploited and thus should not be overlooked.

Analysing Rosatom’s international activity

Our research, gathered in the dataset available in the Supplementary Data, indicates that upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Rosatom boasted as many as 73 different projects in 29 countries. The projects were at very different stages of development from power plants in operation; through construction of reactors ongoing, contracted, ordered or planned; to involvement in tenders, invitations to partnerships or officially published proposals. On top of that, Russian companies have bilateral agreements or memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with 13 countries for services or general joint development of nuclear energy.

Rosatom’s projects and involvement have varied in ambition and cost—from India’s Tarapur nuclear power plant (NPP) (US$700 million) and Iran’s Bushehr-1 (US$850 million) to a gargantuan project in South Africa (US$76 billion) and those in Egypt (US$30 billion) and Turkey (US$20 billion). Finally, 13 countries have a variety of research-oriented agreements with Russian nuclear service providers related to nuclear research centres. Altogether, Russia’s nuclear energy diplomacy has been formalized in 54 countries.

While this is impressive, looking into the details of these agreements (particularly the NPP construction projects) reveals a more modest level of international engagement. Many of the projects have been stuck at the planning stage for several years or are merely visions laid out in non-committal MoUs………………………………………………………

However, most cooperation and plans have not been cancelled, and even EU member states Bulgaria and Hungary have, as of January 2023, not cancelled their planned nuclear plants…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Following the 2014 annexation of Crimea and particularly after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Russian economic, political and energy influence has become a fundamental concern in European countries.42 In countries that plan to base their decarbonization efforts primarily or entirely on nuclear energy (that is, Hungary and Slovakia), the Russian NPP share of the electricity supply can underrepresent Russia’s influence: dependencies on nuclear fuel imports from TVEL/Rosatom (which also continues to supply Bulgaria, Czechia and Finland and Poland’s research reactor), combined with power-system inflexibility and overreliance on a single large nuclear power plant, exacerbates the vulnerability to supply disruptions…………………………………………..

Egypt, Iran and Turkey are all nuclear newcomers, energy hungry and populous (with between 82 and 100 million inhabitants each). Such states are lucrative markets for low-carbon electricity development…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The big question for the future is whether non-Western countries will also turn away from Russian nuclear power. Currently, many developing countries take a positive view of Russia and tilt towards its view of the conflict in Ukraine. Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine, seven of the 14 countries with high- or medium-cooperation levels in our analysis did not approve United Nations Resolution ES 11/1 condemning Russian aggression, and several of these (for example, Bangladesh, China, India, Iran) were categorized as ‘neutral or Russia-leaning’ shortly after the war began58. Over time, however, the interruption of energy supplies to the European Union may undermine the reputation of Russian energy companies as primarily economic actors independent of national security politics, also outside Europe. Non-Western perspectives on the war in Ukraine and the reliability of Russia and Russian technology may also change over time……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… more

February 28, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Zelensky warns Americans that US will lose global influence if it stops backing war

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has warned Americans to keep supporting Kiev or risk geopolitical irrelevance, during a press conference on the anniversary of Russia’s military operation in the country. Should it stop funding the war effort, the US will “lose the leadership position that they are enjoying in the world,” the Ukrainian leader declared on Friday. 

If they do not change their opinion…they will lose NATO, they will lose the clout of the United States, they will lose the leadership position they are enjoying in the world,” Zelensky declared, following a speech in which he declared 2023 the “Year of Invincibility” and vowed to unite the world against Russia.

The warning was a response to a reporter asking what Zelensky would tell the “growing number of Americans” who believe their country is giving too much money and support to Ukraine. The president made sure to thank his American supporters – a group he hinted included not just Congress and President Joe Biden but also “the TV channels” and “the journalists” – before threatening those who held the “dangerous” opinion that the US should “give up” on Kiev………………………………………….

The Republican Party regained control of the House of Representatives in last year’s midterm elections in part on a promise to curtail the Biden administration’s blank check to Kiev. While Congress has not yet passed any legislation to rein in spending on the conflict, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) promised earlier this week to introduce a bill to force an audit of the Ukraine aid program and the House Oversight Committee demanded the administration turn over documents proving the military and economic aid being sent to Ukraine was not being lost to “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

The US has thus far pledged $113 billion to Ukraine’s war effort, vowing to continue pouring money into the conflict for “as long as it takes.”

February 28, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The world returns to an era of nuclear angst

Russia’s suspension of its arms control treaty with the US augurs a new period of military deterrence, arms races and instability


Dmitry Medvedev is currently the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF), a consultative body that supports Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision-making on national security affairs. In April 2010, when the United States and Russia signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in Prague, limiting the nuclear offensive capabilities of both countries, the man in charge in Moscow, at least on paper, was Medvedev, then the president of the country. In late February, Putin suspended the treaty that Obama and Medvedev signed almost 13 years ago. At the New START signing ceremony, Medvedev said, “This will turn a new page for cooperation between our two countries and will create safer conditions for life here and around the world.” Not anymore.

Medvedev is one of the best examples of how nuclear security has changed since the Cold War between the US and Russia. He now fervently supports suspending the treaty he signed in 2010

and said in a Telegram post, “If the US intends to defeat Russia [by providing military support to Ukraine], then we are on the brink of a global conflict. We have the right to defend ourselves with any weapon, including nuclear ones.”

EL PAÍS consulted four arms control and security policy experts on the consequences of Putin’s suspension of the New START treaty. They all concurred that both countries had been complying with limits on warheads, missiles and delivery systems and felt that controlling such weapons would become complicated and potentially lead to a new arms race. Moscow’s move is an attempt to curb Western support for Ukraine, and without New START, there will be more uncertainty, instability and potential nuclear miscalculations. These same words and scenarios defined the Cold War geopolitical tension that dominated US-Russian relations for 40 years after World War II.

“Without the treaty, [the US and Russia] can do whatever they want,” said Olga Oliker, an expert on Russian and Ukrainian security policy for the International Crisis Group. “They can build whatever strategic offensive weapons they feel like and can afford. They won’t be able to verify what the other is or isn’t doing. They will still have intelligence-collecting capabilities but not the inspections, data exchanges and consultations to ensure compliance. Theoretically, they could deceive each other more easily.” Oliker believes the most significant risk in suspending the treaty lies in the potential “misunderstandings” arising from a lack of information.

New START limits the number of immediately deployable nuclear weapons owned by the US and Russia, which account for 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal. They can only have a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 long-range missile delivery systems between ground launchers, submarines and bombers. According to the US State Department, as of September 2022, both countries were below those numbers. It was a drastic reduction compared to the 1991 treaty Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed. New START also initiated a compliance mechanism that permitted up to 18 inspections a year, regular information exchange and a monitoring commission, all of which are now suspended.

Non-compliance with inspections

Todd Sechser is a professor at the University of Virginia (USA) and a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The treaty is important not only because it limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads,” said Sechser, “but because it provides a way for the two countries to build trust. This move undermines that trust.” ……………………………………………………………………….. more

February 28, 2023 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ukraine preparing attack on Crimea – Zelensky 27 Feb 23, Kiev already has the resolve necessary for the assault, but is still building up its capabilities, the president says.

Ukraine is readying an offensive to try and seize Russia’s Crimean peninsula, President Vladimir Zelensky said on Friday at a press conference. Kiev is forming new units specifically for the task, with servicemen undergoing training abroad, he revealed.

“We’re taking military steps, we are preparing for them. We are mentally prepared already. We prepare technically, with weapons, forces, we form new brigades, we form offensive units of various kinds and types, we are sending people for training not only in Ukraine, you know, but also in other countries,” Zelensky stated.

The president, as well as other top officials, has repeatedly pledged to re-capture all of the former Ukrainian territories from Russia, including Crimea. The peninsula broke away from the country back in 2014 in the aftermath of the Maidan coup in Kiev, joining Russia after a landslide referendum.

Four other formerly-Ukrainian territories, namely the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, were incorporated into Russia after the overwhelming majority of their populations voted in favor of the idea last September.

Neither reunification with Crimea, nor the latest incorporations of other regions got Western recognition, with Kiev and its backers considering these lands part of Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly warned Kiev against plotting an assault on Crimea. Early in February, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as Deputy Chair of the Security Council, said that any attack on Crimea would be interpreted as a direct attack on the country itself and would be “met with inevitable retaliation using weapons of any kind.”

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Only matter of time before Biden delivers F-16s to Ukraine: MP — Anti-bellum

Ukrainian News AgencyFebruary 27, 2023 F-16 Aircraft Delivery To Ukraine Only Matter Of Time – Merezhko Member of the Verkhovna Rada from the Servant of the People faction, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign policy and inter-parliamentary cooperation, Oleksandr Merezhko, is confident that the United States will provide Ukraine with F-16 aircraft…. “We’re being […]

Only matter of time before Biden delivers F-16s to Ukraine: MP — Anti-bellum

February 28, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week in nuclear news

Bits of good news?

 – hard to find this week. There are “good news” sites, but these tend to focus on individual stories – about cute kittens, or kind teenagers. Still, I know that there are wonderful groups of people all over, collectively doing good things. I’m seeing my own examples of this, while reading through so many excellent submissions to Parliament from Australian environmental groups opposing nuclear power.

Nuclear.  It is getting more bizarre – as the USA contemplates artificial intelligence for launching nuclear weapons. As one of the very most “progressive” Democrats wants more opportunities for small companies to benefit in the weapons sales boom.

The propaganda tsunami – always a part of a war- is upon us.  But is this a war– between Russia and the entire world?  I have no doubt that some Russian soldiers have committed atrocities – and we’re told this every day.  But – really – are there no Ukrainian- committed atrocities?   Does Saint Zelensky really know what he is doing – or is he just following the USA line? Truth isn’t just the first casualty in this war – – it’s the second, third and so on casualty

Christina’s notes. TODAY. Painful realisation that our Australian Labor defence minister is even more stupid and subservient to USA than the Liberals were!   Media determined to ignore the intrinsic connection between “new small nuclear reactors” and nuclear weapons.

CLIMATE. Temperature rise can be stopped. It is a dangerous myth to say that it’s too late to act

ECONOMICS. Yet another £6 billion cost hike for UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear project. Cost of EDF’s new UK nuclear project rises to $40 billion. Debt-ridden EDF’s woes increase, with big rise in costs of Hinkley and Sizewell nuclear projects .  UK: big talk about small nuclear reactors, but not much is happening, really.     Russia’s nuclear industry is making great money – thanks to customers in Europe. Marketing: Seoul aims to use strengthened US ties to expand nuclear plant exports.

ENERGY. ‘No miracles needed’: Prof. Mark Jacobson on how much wind, sun and water can power the world. The Unholy Alliance – nuclear power, endless data centers, and endless energy use.

ENVIRONMENTGroundwater carries radiation risk for North Korean cities near nuke test site – rights group . Toxic US-Japan collusion on nuke wastewater taints global environment.

ETHICS and RELIGION. Japan not only dumps wastewater but also morality.

HEALTHHealth appeal: avert nuclear war and respect international humanitarian law,

LEGAL. Linda Pentz Gunter on the Nuclear Corruption Cases. World dreads Japan’s date with disaster.

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGYSpreading the Bomb – Will Ottawa revisit Canada’s support for plutonium reprocessing?. Belarus’ second nuclear reactor is far behind schedule, while Unit 1 reactor remains unstable. .

OPPOSITION to NUCLEARFury as Japan plans to dump a million tonnes of contaminated water in the Pacific. Group calls for the stoppage of works at Sizewell C nuclear site, as Sizewell project is not yet authorised, and works are damaging the environment.

POLITICS.   Biden team has ‘deeply rooted hatred for Russia’ – US congressman. How US and Ukraine’s far-right made pro-peace Zelensky a ‘no peace’ president Caitlin Johnstone – The Empire Gives People The Illusion Of Fighting The Power Without Ever Endangering Real Power. Democrats Praise Bush, Want More Small-Business War Profiteers. 

Canada launches $30 million small modular reactor funding programUSA’ Inflation Reduction Act is a game-changer for the nuclear industry -says Public Service Enterprise Group. 

Hinkley Point Nuclear Megaproject is really a colossal miscalculation of risk management. Do not bring nuclear energy plants to Scotland, SNP tells new UK energy minister.  Boris Johnson demands that UK government declares nuclear to be “a green energy” source, and boosts the industry .   Nuclear power – carbon intensive and environmentally damaging –NOT GREEN – Nuclear Free Local Authorities.

POLITICS INTERNATIONAL and DIPLOMACY. Reckless or rhetoric? — Putin suspends New START nuclear treaty. The New START nuclear treaty, and why Vladimir Putin is walking away from it. Scott Ritter: Anyone Who Doesn’t Get How Serious New START Suspension is ‘Doesn’t Appreciate Life’.       Vladimir Putin says the US-led military alliance in Ukraine seeks defeat and liquidation of Russia. 

Chomsky: A Stronger NATO Is the Last Thing We Need as Russia-Ukraine War Turns 1. China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. India, China may have averted nuclear war in Ukraine by influencing Russia- US.   Tamara Lorincz: Canada’s Support For Ukraine’s War on the Donbass & Canada’s Anti-Russia Policies — In Gaza   China calls for Russia to not go down the ‘nuclear weapons route’. .

France mounts ‘aggressive’ nuclear push with eye on EU industrial plan. Poland to buy 1st nuclear power plant with Westinghouse.           Japan beefs up moves in seeking G7 support for wastewater dump.

RADIATION. Our Global Surveillance System on NUKE TESTING is inadequate . Seoul offers radiation tests to N Korea defectors as group flags nuclear risks. Japan slammed for loosening test standards on Fukushima radioactive water.

SAFETY. Courting disaster —Missiles have been passing too close to Ukraine’s reactors.

SECRETS and LIES. The US Can Secretly Rotate Nuclear Warheads Through Australia

SPACE. EXPLORATION, WEAPONS. Russia Sends Ship To Space Station To Rescue “Stranded Crew”  .

SPINBUSTER. B1 Officials reveal cost of shooting down ‘UFOs’ – WSJ

WASTES. Japan postponing its controversial plan for trials to reuse radioactively contaminated soil . World Insights: Science should guide Fukushima wastewater release plan, Pacific leaders say.       Academic speaks out against Japan’s wastewater plan for Pacific.       800,000 cubic meters of new radioactive waste to be generated as a result of decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

WAR and CONFLICT. There has never in history been a greater need for a large Anti-War MovementMore Evidence Emerges That US Wanted Russia to InvadeThousands rally in Berlin, Paris to call for peace in Ukraine. Forgotten heroes of Britain’s nuclear tests to FINALLY get long-awaited medal this summer. Should Algorithms Control Nuclear Launch Codes?.


February 28, 2023 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

More Evidence Emerges That US Wanted Russia to Invade

February 24, 2023

In the past year, additional proof has emerged proving the West’s provocation of Russia to give it its “Vietnam” in Ukraine. 

Consortium News on Feb. 4, 2022 warned that the U.S. was setting a trap for Russia in Ukraine, as it had in Afghanistan in 1979 and Iraq in 1990, to provoke Russia to invade Ukraine to provide the pretext to launch an economic, information and proxy war designed to weaken Russia and bring down its government — in other words, to give Russia its “Vietnam.” Twenty days later Russia invaded. 

One month later, President Joe Biden confirmed that a trap had indeed been set, as reported by Consortium News on March 27, 2022, republished here today. The evidence that the U.S. wanted and needed Russia to invade as cause to launch its economic, information and proxy wars was clear: 

  • The U.S. backed a coup in 2014, installing an anti-Russian government in Kiev and supporting a war against coup resisters in Donbass.
  • The 2015 Minsk Accords to end the Ukrainian civil war were never implemented.
  • On the day of the Feb. 24, 2022 invasion Biden told reporters that economic sanctions were never intended to deter Russia, but to show the Russian people who Russian President Vladimir Putin was.  In other words the U.S. was not trying to stop the invasion but to overthrow Putin, as Biden confirmed a month later in Warsaw, in order to restore the dominance over Russia the U.S. enjoyed in the 1990s. 

  • The United States and NATO rejected Russian treaty proposals to create a new security architecture in Europe, taking Russia’s security concerns into account. Despite a Russian warning of a technical/military response if the draft treaties were rejected. The U.S. and NATO rejected them nonetheless, knowing and welcoming the consequences. Rather than withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe as the treaty proposals called for, NATO sent more troops.
  • For 30 years, NATO continued expanding towards Russia, despite promises to the contrary, routinely holding exercises near its border, despite fully understanding Russia’s objections, from Boris Yeltsin to Putin, and knowing it would provoke a hostile reaction.  Sen. Joe Biden said as much in 1997.
  • The fake Russiagate scandal helped prepare the U.S. population for hostilities against Russia and launched sanctions based on a lie that have never been lifted. 
  • Despite 100,000 Russian troops on the Russian side of the border, the OSCE reported an increase of shelling by Ukraine of Donbass at the end of February 2022 indicating an impending offensive against ethnic Russian civilians who had suffered eight years for resisting an unconstitutional change of government in 2014.  It was tantamount to baiting those Russian forces to cross the border. 
  • In the past year, additional evidence has emerged proving the West’s provocation:
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin acknowledged that the U.S. strategy in Ukraine is to “weaken” Russia. To this end, the U.S. has stopped peace efforts, even by Israel, to prolong the conflict. 
  • Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former French President Francois Holland, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko all admitted in recent months that they never had any intention of implementing the Minsk Accords (endorsed by the U.N. Security Council) and were stringing Russia along to give time for NATO to train and equip the Ukrainian military for the Russian intervention it anticipated. 
  • Planning for sanctions against Russia began in November 2021, three months before the invasion, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Council. 
  • Planning to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines were begun by the United States in September 2021, five months before the invasion, according to reporting by Seymour Hersh.         
  • Taken together, all this evidence leaves little doubt that the U.S. was provoking Russia to invade Ukraine in order to implement its plan to bring down the Russian government.  That the U.S. plan has so far failed, is another matter. 

This was 
Consortium News‘ report on March 27, 2022:

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
March 27, 2022

The U.S. got its war in Ukraine. Without it, Washington could not attempt to destroy Russia’s economy, orchestrate worldwide condemnation and lead an insurgency to bleed Russia, all part of an attempt to bring down its government. Joe Biden has now left no doubt that it’s true.   

The president of the United States has confirmed what Consortium News and others have been reporting since the beginnings of Russsiagate in 2016, that the ultimate U.S. aim is to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said on Saturday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The White House and the State Dept. have been scrambling to explain away Biden’s remark. 

But it is too late.

…………………………………………………… Biden first gave the game away at his Feb. 24 White House press conference — the first day of the invasion. He was asked why he thought new sanctions would work when the earlier sanctions had not prevented Russia’s invasion. Biden said the sanctions were never designed to prevent Russia’s intervention but to punish it afterward. Therefore the U.S. needed Russia to invade. 

………………………….. It was the second time that Biden confirmed that the purpose of the draconian U.S. sanctions on Russia was never to prevent the invasion of Ukraine, which the U.S. desperately needed to activate its plans, but to punish Russia and get its people to rise up against Putin and ultimately restore a Yeltsin-like puppet to Moscow. Without a cause those sanctions could never have been imposed. The cause was Russia’s invasion.

Regime Change in Moscow

Once hidden in studies such as this 2019 RAND study, the desire to overthrow the government in Moscow is now out in the open.

One of the earliest threats came from Carl Gersham, the long-time director of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Gershman, wrote in 2013, before the Kiev coup: “Ukraine is the biggest prize.” If it could be pulled away from Russia and into the West, then “Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

David Ignatius wrote in The Washington Post in 1999 that the NED could now practice regime change out in the open, rather than covertly as the C.I.A. had done.

The RAND Corporation on March 18 then published an article titled, “If Regime Change Should Come to Moscow,” the U.S. should be ready for it. Michael McFaul, the hawkish former U.S. ambassador to Russia, has been calling for regime change in Russia for some time…………………………………………………………………………………….

Back in 2017, Consortium News saw Russiagate as a prelude to regime change in Moscow. That year I wrote:

“The Russia-gate story fits neatly into a geopolitical strategy that long predates the 2016 election. Since Wall Street and the U.S. government lost the dominant position in Russia that existed under the pliable President Boris Yeltsin, the strategy has been to put pressure on getting rid of Putin to restore a U.S. friendly leader in Moscow. There is substance to Russia’s concerns about American designs for ‘regime change’ in the Kremlin…………………………………………..

The Invasion Was Necessary

The United States could have easily prevented Russia’s military action. It could have stopped Russia’s intervention in Ukraine’s civil war from happening by doing three things:  forcing implementation of the 8-year old Minsk peace accords, dissolving extreme right Ukrainian militias and engaging Russia in serious negotiations about a new security architecture in Europe.

But it didn’t.

The U.S. can still end this war through serious diplomacy with Russia. But it won’t. Blinken has refused to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Instead, Biden announced on March 16 another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine on the same day it was revealed Russia and Ukraine have been working on a 15-point peace plan. It has never been clearer that the U.S. wanted this war and wants it to continue………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The Excised Background to the Invasion 

It is vital to recall the events of 2014 in Ukraine and what has followed until now because it is routinely whitewashed from Western media coverage. Without that context, it is impossible to understand what is happening in Ukraine.

Both Donetsk and Lugansk had voted for independence from Ukraine in 2014 after a U.S.-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych.  The new, U.S.-installed Ukrainian government then launched a war against the provinces to crush their resistance to the coup and their bid for independence, a war that is still going on eight years later at the cost of thousands of lives with U.S. support. It is this war that Russia has entered. 

Neo-Nazi groups, such as Right Sector and the Azov Battalion, who revere the World War II Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera, took part in the coup as well as in the ongoing violence against Lugansk and Donetsk. 

Despite reporting in the BBC, the NYT, the Daily Telegraph and CNN on the neo-Nazis at the time, their role in the story is now excised by Western media, reducing Putin to a madman hellbent on conquest without reason. As though he woke up one morning and looked at a map to decide what country he would invade next. 

The public has been induced to embrace the Western narrative, while being kept in the dark about Washington’s ulterior motives.   

The Traps Set for Russia

Six weeks ago, on Feb. 4, I wrote an article, “What a US Trap for Russia in Ukraine Might Look Like,” in which I laid out a scenario in which Ukraine would begin an offensive against ethnic Russian civilians in Donbass, forcing Russia to decide whether to abandon them or to intervene to save them.

If Russia intervened with regular army units, I argued, this would be the “Invasion!” the U.S. needed to attack Russia’s economy, turn the world against Moscow and end Putin’s rule. 

In the third week of February, Ukrainian government shelling of Donbass dramatically increased, according to the OSCE, with what appeared to be the new offensive.  Russia was forced to make its decision.

It first recognized the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, a move it put off for eight years. And then on Feb. 24 President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country. 

Russia stepped into a trap, which grows more perilous by the day as Russia’s military intervention continues with a second trap in sight.  From Moscow’s perspective, the stakes were too high not to intervene. And if it can induce Kiev to accept a settlement, it might escape the clutches of the United States.

A Planned Insurgency ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Economic War

Along with the quagmire, are the raft of profound economic sanctions on Russia designed to collapse its economy and drive Putin from power. 

These are the harshest sanctions the U.S. and Europe have ever imposed on any nation. Sanctions against Russia’s Central Bank sanctions are the most serious, as they were intended to destroy the value of the ruble………………………………………………………………………………

The aim is clear: “asphyxiating Russia’s economy”, as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian put it, even if it damages the West.


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

February 27, 2023 Posted by | Reference, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment