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Putin ready for war with NATO and U.S.? Russia plans renewed offensive in Feb over tanks aid.

27 Jan 2023 Russia has warned U.S.-led West and NATO against escalating the conflict in Ukraine. Russian Deputy Ambassador to the OSCE Maxim Buyakevich said that the U.S. and NATO have approached a dangerous line on the way to a full-scale military conflict in Europe after the U.S. and Germany agreed to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine. “Their deliberate actions to escalate the military confrontation in Ukraine, provoking the regime to military action against the population of Russia with the use of Western heavy weapons and targeting based on NATO intelligence is a direct path to a full-scale military conflict in Europe, from which absolutely all residents of our continent will definitely lose.” said Buyakevich at the meeting of the OSCE Post Council. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for a new offensive in Ukraine, which will be launched next month. Watch this video for more.

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January 29, 2023 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Diplomatic Cables Show Russia Saw NATO Expansion as a Red Line

Ukraine was the “line of last resort” that would complete Russia’s encirclement, said one defense expert, and its entry into NATO was universally viewed by the Russian political elite as an “unfriendly act.” 

ACURA VIEWPOINT, Branko Marcetic, January 16, 2023

Nearly a year in, the war in Ukraine has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and brought the world to the brink of, in President Joe Biden’s own words, “Armageddon.” Alongside the literal battlefield has been a similarly bitter intellectual battle over the war’s causes.

Commentators have rushed to declare the long-criticized policy of NATO expansion as irrelevant to the war’s outbreak, or as a mere fig leaf used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mask what Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates recently called “his messianic mission” to “reestablish the Russian Empire.” Fiona Hill, a presidential advisor to two Republican administrations, has deemed these views merely the product of a “Russian information war and psychological operation,” resulting in “masses of the US public … blaming NATO, or blaming the US for this outcome.” 

Yet a review of the public record and many dozens of diplomatic cables made publicly available via WikiLeaks shows that US officials were aware, or were directly told over the span of years, that expanding NATO was viewed by Russian officials well beyond Putin as a major threat and provocation, that expanding it to Ukraine was a particularly bright red line for Moscow, that it would inflame and empower hawkish, nationalist parts of the Russian political spectrum, and that it could ultimately lead to war. 

In a particularly prophetic set of warnings, US officials were told that pushing for Ukrainian membership in NATO would not only increase the chance of Russian meddling in the country, but risked destabilizing the divided nation — and that US and other NATO officials pressured Ukrainian leaders to reshape this unfriendly public opinion in response. All of this was told to US officials in both public and private by not just senior Russian officials going all the way up to the presidency, but by NATO allies, various analysts and experts, liberal Russian voices critical of Putin, even, sometimes, US diplomats themselves. 

This history is particularly relevant as US officials now test the red line China has drawn around Taiwan’s independence, risking military escalation that will first and foremost be aimed at the island state. The US diplomatic record regarding NATO expansion suggests the perils of ignoring or outright crossing another military power’s red lines, and the wisdom of a more restrained foreign policy that treats other powers’ spheres of influence with the care they treat the United States’ own.

An Early Exception

NATO expansion had been fraught from the start. The pro-Western Boris Yeltsin had told Bill Clinton he “saw nothing but humiliation for Russia if you proceed” with plans to renege on the verbal promises made years earlier not to enlarge NATO eastward, and warned it would be “sowing the seeds of mistrust” and would “be interpreted, and not only in Russia, as the beginning of a new split in Europe.”………………………………………………………………………….

Almost Complete Consensus

The thinkers and analysts that US officials conferred with likewise made clear the Russian elite’s anxieties over NATO and its expansion, and the lengths they might go to counteract it. Many were transmitted by then-US Ambassador to Russia William Burns, today serving as Biden’s CIA director. 

Recounting his conversations with various “Russian observers” from both regional and US think tanks, Burns concluded in a March 2007 cable that “NATO enlargement and U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe play to the classic Russian fear of encirclement.” Ukraine and Georgia’s entry “represents an ‘unthinkable’ predicament for Russia,” he reported six months later, warning that Moscow would “cause enough trouble in Georgia” and counted on “continued political disarray in Ukraine” to halt it. In an especially prescient set of cables, he summed up scholars’ views that the emerging Russia-China relationship was largely “the by-product of ‘bad’ US policies,” and was unsustainable — “unless continued NATO enlargement pushed Russia and China even closer together.”

………………… “Ukraine was, in the long term, the most potentially destabilizing factor in US-Russian relations, given the level of emotion and neuralgia triggered by its quest for NATO membership,” went the counsel of Dmitri Trenin, then-deputy director of the Russian branch of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in a Burns-authored February 2008 cable. For Ukraine, he said prophetically, it would mean that elements within the Russian establishment would be encouraged to meddle, stimulating US overt encouragement of opposing political forces, and leaving the US and Russia in a classic confrontational posture.

Indeed, opposing NATO’s enlargement eastward, particulary in Ukraine and Georgia, was “one of the few security areas where there is almost complete consensus among Russian policymakers, experts and the informed population,” he cabled in March 2008. Ukraine was the “line of last resort” that would complete Russia’s encirclement, said one defense expert, and its entry into NATO was universally viewed by the Russian political elite as an “unfriendly act.” Other experts cautioned “that Putin would be forced to respond to Russian nationalist feelings opposing membership” of Georgia, and that MAPs for either would trigger a cut-back in the Russian military’s genuine desire for co-operation with NATO. 

From Liberals to Hardliners

These analysts were reiterating what cables show US officials heard again and again from Russian officials themselves, whether diplomats, members of parliament, or senior Russian officials all the way up to the presidency, recorded in nearly three-dozen cables at least………………………………………………………………..

Selling NATO to Ukraine……………………………………………………..

“Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war,” Burns wrote in February 2008. Russia, he wrote, would then “have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”………………………………

By December 2016, with fears of invasion ramping up, Putin told Biden personally that “the eastward expansion of the Western alliance was a major factor in his decision to send troops to Ukraine’s border,” the Washington Post reported

…………..  claims that Russian unhappiness over NATO expansion is irrelevant, a mere “fig leaf” for pure expansionism, or simply Kremlin propaganda are belied by this lengthy historical record. Rather, successive US administrations pushed ahead with the policy despite being warned copiously for years — including by the analysts who advised them, by allies, even by their own officials — that it would feed Russian nationalism, create a more hostile Moscow, foster instability and even civil war in Ukraine, and could eventually lead to Russian military intervention, all of which ended up happening. 

“I don’t accept anyone’s red line,” Biden said in the lead-up to the invasion, as his administration rejected negotiations with Moscow over Ukraine’s NATO status. We can only imagine the world in which he and his predecessors had. https://usrussiaaccord.org/acura-viewpoint-guest-post-by-branko-marcetic-diplomatic-cables-show-russia-saw-nato-expansion-as-a-red-line/

January 16, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Arctic nuclear waste ship gets funding

Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed the decree granting 12,4 billion rubles to build a transport- and maintenance ship for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from the country’s fleet of icebreakers.

Thomas Nilsen Barents Observer, 11 Jan 23

Not since Soviet days has more nuclear-powered icebreakers been operating at the same time in Arctic waters, the Barents Observer reported last week.

Russia has over the last few years put three brand new icebreakers of the Project 22220 class into operation. Two more are under construction in St. Petersburg and a sixth vessel recently got funding with a goal to put it into service by 2030.

Each of the new icebreakers is powered with two RITM-200 reactors, a reactor type larger than the older Arktika-class icebreakers.

New reactors require new technologies to reload nuclear fuel elements. The service vessel used by Rosatomflot today, the “Imandra”, is from 1980 and does not meet the demands of the new icebreaker fleet, larger in size and numbers.

The new service ship (Project 22770) will be nearly 160 meters long and carry its own cranes to lift in and out containers with spent nuclear fuel or fresh uranium fuel from the icebreaker reactors, either at Rosatom’s service base in Murmansk or in open sea anywhere along the Northern Sea Route………………….. more https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/nuclear-safety/2023/01/arctic-nuclear-waste-ship-gets-funding

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

GUSTAFSON: Russian nuclear power – unsanctioned – is prospering worldwide

INTELLINEWS, By Professor Thane Gustafson in Washington January 8, 2023

As the Western nuclear industry flounders, Russia’s Rosatom is building nuclear power plants (NPPs) on time and under budget around the world, while selling uranium to the US……………….

Russia’s nuclear industry is thriving, thanks mainly to its international business. According to Aleksey Likhachev, CEO of Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear monopoly, Russia is currently at work on 23 nuclear power units in a dozen different countries, including China, India, Belarus, Turkey, Hungary and Egypt. It sold $10bn worth of products abroad in 2022, a 15% increase on the year before, and its current foreign order book stands at over $200bn. Rosatom is actively courting new customers, mostly in the developing world; it offers a “full service” package that covers construction and operation, as well as the supply and reprocessing of nuclear fuel. The Russian government actively supports Rosatom with low-interest financing. In short, Russian nuclear power is on a roll.

But that is not all. In addition to building and operating new NPPs, Rosatom exports enriched uranium to numerous countries around the world, including the US and Europe. (In addition, Rosatom provides services to five EU counties that operate Russian-built NPPs.)  Even though the revenues are not comparable (only about $1bn per year), the fuel exports are key politically. Because of this dependence, Russia’s nuclear industry is not under Western sanctions (as discussed further below), and it is not likely to be so any time soon. At this moment, Rosatom is able to operate without impediment, both at home and abroad; one of the few sectors in the Russian economy to be able to do so.

For both the US and Europe the implications are serious. First, they will continue to depend on Russian enriched uranium for several years more, potentially weakening their common front on sanctions. (Indeed, there have already been substantial disagreements among EU members over their policy toward Russian nuclear power.)

…… . Russia should continue to hold a commanding position in nuclear power for some time to come. …..

…. Putin named a politician, Sergei Kiriyenko, (above)to head the nuclear programme. Kiriyenko had had a mixed career up to that time – including a disastrous five-month stint as prime minister that coincided with Russia’s 1998 financial meltdown – but he turned out to be a talented manager. He regathered Rosatom’s wandering assets under one roof and after seeing off the oligarchs, he brought the industry’s unruly suppliers and contractors to heel. During the next eleven years he built Rosatom into a powerhouse. In 2016, Putin rewarded him with a secret medal and a top job, as Number 2 in the Kremlin’s Presidential Administration, where he is today.

The secrecy was no accident. When Rosatom was created in 2007, it inherited both the civilian NPPs and the military weapons assets. Kiriyenko made vigorous efforts to disentangle the military wing from the civilian, but the separation proved easier to achieve on paper than in reality. Today, the civilian and the military parts of Rosatom remain connected at the hip, as many parts of the nuclear supply chain, beginning with the mining of uranium, serve both military and civilian customers inside Russia.

But the military part was (and is) funded directly by the government, while the civilian part was supposed to be self-supporting. For Kiriyenko, this was a crucial difference. He had begun with ambitious plans for expanding nuclear power inside Russia, but he soon realised that there was little domestic demand for new NPPs in an electricity sector dominated by gas, and so Kiriyenko turned his sights on the foreign market. For this he needed to persuade the international community that Rosatom had become essentially a civilian business, in other words to fashion a new “commercial” image for the company. By and large he was successful, and Rosatom owes its present prosperity largely to the international business he built.

The impact of Western sanctions

Because of its important role as a supplier of uranium and nuclear fuels to NPPs around the world, including the US, Rosatom is not under Western sanctions. The US, in particular, relies on Russia for low-enrichment uranium for its own NPPs. Although efforts are under way to develop substitutes, for the present Rosatom is simply too valuable to sanction.

But even if sanctions were to be imposed, Rosatom’s operations would be largely unaffected by them. Internally, its supply chain, which as mentioned runs from uranium mining to power plant construction and operation, depends very little on the outside. ………….

Rosatom’s international business might be somewhat more vulnerable to sanctions, but so far there is little sign of it. Only one country, Finland, has pulled out of an ongoing project with Rosatom. ………………………….

Multiple challenges ahead

Yet quite apart from sanctions, Rosatom and Russian nuclear power may face multiple challenges ahead. One of them is technological progress. …………

 Russia is the only country in the world to operate nuclear-powered icebreakers and floating NPPs, both of which are powered by small reactors. The Russian experience in designing and building small reactors goes back decades to the Soviet era, and there have been multiple generations of successively improved designs. Rosatom is working on deploying them not only on nuclear icebreakers and floating platforms, but also on land.

…………………….. The key to the future of SMRs, in the longer term, will likely be so-called “Generation IV” reactors, based on revolutionary designs that break entirely from the traditional light-water-reactor technology. But Generation IV is still an immature technology, and the race for leadership in G-IV is only now getting under way.

The more proximate threat to Rosatom’s leading position is Beijing. China has a vigorous nuclear programme, which is entirely independent of Russia…………………………………………

Finally, the ultimate challenges for Rosatom may be safety and reputational risk. Ever since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the Russian nuclear industry has had an excellent safety record. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine raises a serious new threat. There are four NPPs operating in Ukraine – ironically, all of them of Soviet manufacture. Russian [?] missiles have already landed close to one of them, the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is located close to the current battle line between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Just who is responsible for the safety of the plant is in dispute……………for Rosatom this plan is full of risks. If the plant were damaged and there were radioactive contamination, quite apart from the further suffering this would inflict on the Ukrainian people, for Rosatom the reputational damage would be extreme.

……. The challenges ahead are real, but they will come more from technological changes and rising competition from China, than from sanctions, from which Rosatom in any case remains so far exempt. https://www.intellinews.com/gustafson-russian-nuclear-power-unsanctioned-is-prospering-worldwide-266160/

January 8, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

Russian computer hacking team targeted 3 USA nuclear weapons facilities

 A Russian hacking team known as Cold River targeted three nuclear research
laboratories in the United States this past summer, according to internet
records reviewed by Reuters and five cyber security experts.

Between August and September, as President Vladimir Putin indicated Russia would be
willing to use nuclear weapons to defend its territory, Cold River targeted
the Brookhaven (BNL), Argonne (ANL) and Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratories (LLNL), according to internet records that showed the hackers
creating fake login pages for each institution and emailing nuclear
scientists in a bid to make them reveal their passwords.

 Reuters 6th Jan 2023

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russian-hackers-targeted-us-nuclear-scientists-2023-01-06/

January 8, 2023 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

This man may have saved the world from nuclear war. His story is a heart-pumper.

Even if you don’t know who Petrov was, he might be the reason you’re alive today.

James Gaines https://www.upworthy.com/this-man-may-have-saved-the-world-from-nuclear-war-his-story-is-a-heart-pumper-rp 4 Jan 23

In the 1980s, Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces. He was in charge of watching the computers at one of the Soviety Union’s nuclear early warning centers. If the Americans wanted to start a nuclear war, Petrov would be one of the first to know.

At this time, the United States and the Soviet Union were embroiled in the Cold War. Each had stockpiled tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and a nuclear war, though horrific, often seemed imminent

Suddenly, in the early morning of Sept. 26, 1983, a siren started to scream. If Petrov’s computer was to be believed, the Americans had just attacked the Soviet Union.

The word “LAUNCH” appeared in bold red letters across Petrov’s computer’s screen. Then it happened again and again — five missiles in all.

Petrov need to react. If a nuclear attack really was incoming, the Soviets only had a few minutes to save themselves and launch a nuclear counter attack of their own.


It was Petrov’s job, his duty, to alert his superiors — but something seemed off.

Petrov sat there, trying to figure out what to do. If the Americans were attacking, why were there only six bombs? Why not the thousands they were capable of? Why weren’t there corroborating reports from ground radar? Plus this particular computer system was new and unproven. It could be a malfunction.

Did Petrov really think this was enough evidence to potentially start a full-scale nuclear exchange? Kill millions of people? It was a heavy weight to bear.

“Nobody would be able to correct my mistake if I had made one,” Petrov later told the BBC.

\

After a few pregnant minutes, Petrov made his decision.

He picked up the phone and, though he couldn’t know for sure, told his superiors it was a false alarm. His level-headed thinking may have saved millions of lives.

He was right. It was a malfunction.

For his efforts, Petrov’s reward would be a long time coming. In the immediate aftermath, he actually got reprimanded by his superiors. It wouldn’t be until after the fall of the Soviet Union that the world learned just how close we all came to destruction and the one man who saved it.

January 5, 2023 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia Adds ‘Unrivaled’ Nuclear-Powered Missile Cruisers To Its Arsenal; Putin Says Has No Analogs In The World

 https://eurasiantimes.com/russia-adds-unrivaled-nuclear-powered-missile-carriers/ By Ashish Dangwal, January 1, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at a naval commissioning ceremony on December 29 that Russia’s latest nuclear-powered missile cruisers have no counterparts anywhere else in the world. 

Regarding the Sevmash Shipyard and Rubin Design Bureau’s contributions to the production of the nation’s nuclear submarines, Putin stated that “the latest nuclear-powered missile carriers being designed and built there have no analogs in the world in many characteristics.”

He stated the vessels have advanced underwater acoustics, navigation, and communication systems in addition to high-precision weapons and robotic systems. 

The flag hoisting signifies that the ships have been accepted into the Russian Navy. Defense Sergey Shoigu announced at the end of the ceremony that “the ships have been accepted into the Navy.” 

The President of Russia also thanked the designers, engineers, and employees of the Sevmash, Zelenodolsk, and Sredne-Nevsky shipyards for their diligent work and timely, high-quality completion of duties.

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Never mind about sanctions – Russia’s export of nuclear products and services is soaring

Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom expects its exports to have
increased by 15% this year, chief executive Alexey Likhachev was quoted as
saying by Russian newspaper Izvestia on Monday. Rosatom’s portfolio of
foreign orders is set to remain stable at $200 billion, “even in the
current geopolitical situation,” Likhachev said.

Supply of Rosatom products and services abroad is expected to top $10 billion this year, the
top executive of Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation said. The rise
in exports this year is due to contracts Rosatom was already implementing,
as well as its supplying of fuel, conversion services, and enriched uranium
products, according to Likhachev.

Rosatom has avoided sanctions since
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because of its importance in the supply chain
of the global nuclear power industry. Yet, many Western governments and
customers have been looking to procure alternative nuclear fuel supply,
where possible, so as not to rely on a Russian state corporation for part
of their energy needs.

Oil Price 26th Dec 2022

https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Russias-Nuclear-Energy-Giant-Expects-2022-Exports-To-Rise-By-15.html

December 26, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Russia | Leave a comment

Vladimir Putin open to talks on Ukraine if West accepts Moscow’s demands

ABC News 3 Dec 22

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “open to negotiations” on Ukraine but the West must accept Moscow’s demands, the Kremlin says, a day after US President Joe Biden said he was willing to talk with the Russian leader.

Key points:

  • The Kremlin says the US’s refusal to recognise annexed territory in Ukraine as Russian was hindering a search for ways to end the war
  • The IAEA wants to establish a protective zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which has been repeatedly shelled over the last few months
  • An investigation into whether the Moscow branch of the Orthodox church is entitled to operate in Kyiv is underway

Speaking after talks on Thursday at the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Biden said he was ready to speak with Mr Putin “if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war”, adding the Russian leader “hasn’t done that yet”.

Mr Biden has not spoken directly with Mr Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

In March, Mr Biden branded Mr Putin a “butcher” who “cannot stay in power”.

In Moscow’s first public response to Mr Biden’s overture, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests.”

Mr Peskov said the US refusal to recognise annexed territory in Ukraine as Russian was hindering a search for ways to end the war.

Moscow has previously sought sweeping security guarantees, including a reversal of NATO’s eastern enlargement………………………………….. more https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-02/russia-open-to-talks-on-ukraine-if-west-accepts-moscows-demands/101730102

December 2, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

War and Nuclear Power: Stakes Are High for People, Environment, and Industry

Power, by Aaron Larson, 1 Dec 22, John Stevens Cabot Abbott, the 19th century American historian perhaps best known for writing History of Napoleon Bonaparte and History of the Civil War in America, is attributed with the quote, “War is the science of destruction.” In truth, however, I don’t think most combatants really think about science when going into battle; they have enough on their minds just trying to stay out of harm’s way. Nonetheless, there are many consequences, some that could require serious science to solve, that can result from the actions soldiers take during wartime.

The war in Ukraine has brought to light a few of the more significant risks associated with war in a modern world powered by nuclear energy. Ukraine is heavily dependent on nuclear power for its supply of electricity. The country is home to 15 reactors, which have provided more than half of Ukraine’s electricity in recent years. Among the nuclear power stations is the six-unit Zaporizhzhya facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP) with a total capacity of 6 GW (Figure 1). It is located in the “steppe zone” of Ukraine, a natural grassland plain in the southern part of the country.

Russian Troops Occupy Ukrainian Nuclear Site

Russian troops took control of the Zaporizhzhya NPP during the first week of March. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mario Grossi reported on March 4 that in the conflict leading up to the takeover, a projectile had hit a training/construction building within the plant site, causing a fire, which was extinguished by the local fire brigade at the power station. While none of the safety systems for the six reactors were affected and there was no release of radioactive material, the incident was significant in that it demonstrated the vulnerability both of the staff and the plant.

At the time, Grossi outlined “seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security.” ……………….

It’s obviously easy for everyone to agree to maintain these pillars during peacetime, but during a war, the lines can be blurred. It’s understandable why the Russians, for example, might want to take the plant down, putting a crimp on the Ukrainian power grid. With some thought, and perhaps a little science, they could do so without jeopardizing the plant or the environment. But as I said in the beginning, soldiers don’t always think about things like that. Furthermore, many of the troops on the ground may not have a complete understanding of how a nuclear reactor works or what it needs to remain safe, which presents significant risk to everyone involved……………………………….

 perhaps the most serious infringement on the IAEA pillars during the Russian occupation has been the multiple times off-site power has been lost at the plant. The site is equipped with 20 emergency diesel generators that can provide the required power for safe operation of the reactors and the ability to bring them to cold shutdown should off-site power be lost, but the loss of off-site power violates defense-in-depth principles and adds significant risk to plant operations.

Russia, of all countries, should have a firm understanding of the importance of safety in the nuclear power industry. It has 37 reactors in operation with a total net capacity of about 27.7 GW and three more units under construction. Russia also has significant interest in exporting its nuclear goods and services around the world.

Today, Rosatom claims to be in “first place in terms of the number of simultaneously implemented nuclear reactor construction projects” with its three units in Russia and 34 abroad at various stages of implementation. In 2021, Rosatom’s package of foreign orders exceeded $139.9 billion, according to the company. It doesn’t take a scientist to conclude that NPP projects would be seriously stalled by a nuclear incident in Ukraine. While I don’t really care if Russia ever sells another reactor abroad, it’s still in everyone’s best interest to maintain plant safety at Zaporizhzhya and prevent a nuclear catastrophe.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Putin touts Russia’s ‘Arctic power’ with new nuclear icebreaker

President vows to develop his country’s nuclear fleet despite current difficulties in Russia’s economy and production.

Aljazeera, 22 Nov 22,

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday touted Russia’s Arctic power at a flag-raising ceremony and dock launch for two nuclear-powered icebreakers that will ensure year-round navigation in the Western Arctic.

Presiding via video link from the Kremlin at the launch ceremony in St Petersburg in northern Russia, Putin said such icebreakers were of strategic importance for the country.

“Both icebreakers were laid down as part of a large serial project and are part of our large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet, to strengthen Russia’s status as a great Arctic power,” Putin said.

The Arctic is taking on greater strategic significance due to climate change, as a shrinking ice cap opens up new sea lanes.

Vast oil and gas resources lie in Russia’s Arctic regions, including a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula.

The Kremlin chief pledged to develop his country’s nuclear fleet despite current difficulties in Russia’s economy and production, in an apparent reference to Western sanctions over Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine……………………..

The 173.3-metre (569 feet) Yakutia, with a displacement of up to 33,540 tonnes, can smash through ice of up to three metres. It will enter service in 2024.

Two other icebreakers in the same series, the Arktika and the Sibir, are already in service, and another, the Chukotka, is scheduled for 2026.

Putin said a super-powerful nuclear 209-metre icebreaker known as “Rossiya”, with a displacement of up to 71,380 tonnes, would be completed by 2027. It will be able to break through ice four metres thick………………………………….. more https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/22/putin-touts-russias-arctic-power-with-new-nuclear-icebreaker

November 22, 2022 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment

Putin’s nuclear grip on Europe could spark another energy crisis, expert warns

Russian President Vladimir Putin controls about 42 percent of the world’s nuclear fuel, and may be able to send electricity prices soaring if he withholds supplies.

 https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1698529/putin-nuclear-power-energy-uranium-gas-prices By JACOB PAUL, Nov 20, 2022, As global gas prices have been sent to record highs over the last year due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and his supply cuts to Europe, nations across the continent have been scrambling to wean themselves off Russian fossil fuels to weaken Moscow’s tight grip on the energy market. But an expert has told Expess.co.uk that countries which have hedged bets on nuclear power as a means of gaining energy independence may not actually be able to escape Putin’s clutches as the Kremlin has dominance over nuclear fuel supplies, which could potentially trigger another price crisis. 

While policymakers across Europe have argued that nuclear power stations can boost homegrown supplies of energy, they have failed to mention these plants require uranium to fuel them. 

This is the crux of the issue as Russia, and Russia-controlled Kazakhstan currently supplies 42 percent of all uranium for all reactors worldwide. And when compared with the gas crisis, the statistics look eerily similar.

The EU for instance, got around 40 percent of its gas from Russia before Putin sent his troops into Ukraine. And when he withheld supplies to Europe, prices in Britain shot up too, despite the UK only getting four percent of its gas from Russia. This is due to the integrated nature of the gas market. 

With the EU relying on Russia for 20 percent of its uranium needed to fuel supplies if Russia decided to curtail uranium deliveries to the bloc, it may spark the same problem and trigger another energy crisis.

Prof Paul Dorfman, an Associate Fellow from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex told Express.co.uk: “The argument goes that nuclear provides a security of supply. In other words, ‘you don’t need to worry about Putin’s gas or the Middle East’s oil’. But this point of view is hugely problematic. 

“There is no question that the whole business about the Russian invasion of Ukraine has turned the nuclear industry on its head. This whole idea of security of supply, that nuclear won’t leave us dependent on foreign problems is false. 

“Putin, Russia and Russia-controlled Kazakhstan supply 42 percent of all uranium of all reactors worldwide. 20 percent for the EU, 14 percent of the US and nearly 30 percent of their enrichment services.

“The UK is different. We get our uranium from Australia and Canada and we don’t rely on Russia so we are ok.”

However, while nuclear fuel may not run short in the event of a supply cut from Russia, Prof Dorfman warned, it could send the cost of electricity in Britain soaring too. 

Asked if the nuclear market was similar to the gas market in this regard, Prof Dorfman told Express.co.uk: “In my view, it certainly would have a significant impact on UK electricity prices because we live in a market world. Absolutely, yes.”

This could be a concern for the UK, given that Britain is planning to dramatically expand its number of nuclear power plants, a desire unveiled in the April energy strategy under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It included the plan to set up new government body, Great British Nuclear, and a £120milion Future Nuclear Enabling Fund in a bid to build eight new reactors across the UK. Mr Johnson said: “We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain – from new nuclear to offshore wind – in the decade ahead.

“This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.”

While it is recognised that renewable energies like wind and solar power are cheaper than other sources like oil and gas, Mr Johnson appeared to fail to take into account Putin’s grip on the global nuclear market and the prospect of sending electricity bills soaring in the UK. 

November 20, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Poland missile incident is step towards World War III – Medvedev

Rt.com 16 Nov 22A hybrid war waged by the West against Russia could lead to disastrous consequences, the former Russian leader warns.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that incidents like the missile explosion which killed two people in Poland risk prompting a major global conflict.

The incident “proves just one thing: waging a hybrid war against Russia, the West moves closer to the World War”, the ex-president, who is now the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. He also put the words “missile strike” in quotation marks…………………………………..

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was quick to blame Russia for the incident late on Tuesday, urging NATO, of which Poland is a member, to act against this “attack on collective security.” Despite not being backed by any proof, the claims were picked by the media in Poland and by some of the country’s officials.

Warsaw put its military on alert, and said it was discussing whether to invoke NATO’s Article 4, which would require consultations on the situation with the other 29 member states and a consensus decision on how to proceed.

However, US President Joe Biden said soon afterwards: “it is unlikely, in the minds of the trajectory, that it [the missile] was fired from Russia.” The Associated Press also cited three US officials as saying preliminary data suggested the missile was actually Ukrainian, fired by the country’s air defenses amid a large-scale Russian attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has insisted that it did not carry out any strikes near the Ukrainian-Polish border on Tuesday. It later clarified that analysis of photos from the site showed that the debris were from a missile for the S-300 air defense system operated by Ukraine’s military. https://www.rt.com/russia/566619-poland-missile-ukraine-medvedev/

November 16, 2022 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia and US hold secret talks in Ankara – Kommersant

 https://www.rt.com/russia/566501-russia-us-secret-talks/ 14 Nov 22, Moscow is reportedly represented by the country’s top spy at the negotiations.

A leading Moscow newspaper claimed, on Monday, that secret US-Russian talks are being hosted by Türkiye. Kommersant, a privately owned title which is known to have good sources in Moscow, reported, citing anonymous sources, that the un-announced meeting was taking place in Ankara.

The outlet alleged that Russia had sent Sergey Naryshkin, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) to the talks.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov later confirmed to Russian media that bilateral talks had taken place in Ankara, adding that they were held at the initiative of the US.

CNN claimed that CIA Director Bill Burns had represented Washington at the gathering, citing a “National Security Council spokesperson.”

Earlier this month, Western media reported that top Russian and US officials were engaging in undeclared contacts. According to the Wall Street Journal, US national-security adviser Jake Sullivan has been engaged with Yury Ushakov, a senior foreign policy aide to President Vladimir Putin, and with Nikolay Patrushev, Sullivan’s counterpart in the Russian government.

The White House did not deny the talks, with spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre telling journalists that the contacts focused on “risk reduction.” Meanwhile, Peskov told the WSJ at the time that the British and American press tended to print “hoaxes.”

Türkiye emerged as a principal mediator during the Ukraine crisis. In late March, it hosted Russia-Ukraine talks, during which the two parties made significant progress towards settling on a peace agreement.

The negotiations were reportedly torpedoed by the UK, when then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kiev in April. According to Ukrainian media, he told President Vladimir Zelensky that Western nations would not support the proposed security pact that was discussed with Russia.

Ankara also helped the UN to launch the Black Sea Initiative, an arrangement that allows Ukraine to export its grain via commercial ships. The agreement, which was signed in July, expires on Friday. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it may not agree to a renewal, unless the UN delivers on its promise to facilitate Moscow’s export of Russian grain and fertilizers, which was part of the deal.

November 14, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

 Russia maintains its grip on global nuclear energy landscape

Increasing use of atomic power would not necessarily free economies from Moscow’s
influence. Faced with a global energy crisis and a race to slash emissions,
advanced economies are starting to reconsider nuclear power after a period
of declining investment. The incentive is all the greater among European
countries, which are urgently seeking to move away from Russian fossil
fuels to starve the Kremlin of funds for its assault on Ukraine.

But an atomic shift does not necessarily free a country from energy dependence on
Russia, given the scale of the country’s presence in the nuclear sector.


There were 437 operational reactors around the world as of 2021 excluding
those suspended, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. About
10 per cent or 42 reactors outside of Russia were using Soviet-designed
VVER technology, with others using designs from countries including the US,
Canada, Germany and France.

Ukraine has by far the largest number of VVER
fleets outside Russia, with all 15 of its operating reactors using the
technology, with the Czech Republic next on six. Similarly, of the 52
reactors currently being built around the world excluding Russia, 21 use
VVER. China, India and Turkey have the largest number with 4 each, with
countries like Bangladesh, Egypt and Iran also taking in Russian
technology.

The prevalence of Russian-designed reactors currently being
built is in part a matter of timing, according to Jonathan Cobb, analyst at
the World Nuclear Association, who said “the Russian reactor programme
itself was very active” over the past decade when many of the contracts
for these projects were signed.

Russia was also the seventh-largest
producer of uranium in 2021. State-owned Rosatom accounts for about 40 per
cent of the world’s uranium enrichment capacity, making it a crucial
supplier as most nuclear power stations use enriched fuel.

 FT 13th Nov 2022

https://www.ft.com/content/ffe76530-8fcb-45c3-aade-dc307af9c82f

November 12, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Russia | Leave a comment