June 13, 2024 6:09 pm

Grant Shapps visits Kyiv as UK backs Ukraine nuclear power

UK support will help power Ukraine’s nuclear plants, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps has said after visiting the country.

The government has announced it will provide a £192m loan guarantee to enable a UK-based company to supply Ukraine with uranium enrichment services, a vital part of nuclear fuel.

Nuclear power generates more than half of Ukraine’s electricity.

But its largest plant, at Zaporizhzhia, is currently held by Russia.

While he was in Ukraine on Tuesday, Mr Shapps visited a power station, which has been badly damaged by Russian bombing.

He also met senior Ukrainian ministers and energy industry figures in Kyiv to discuss the UK’s support for the country’s recovery.

The government has said it will provide the loan guarantee through UK Export Finance – the UK’s export credit agency – to enable UK-headquartered company Urenco to supply Ukraine’s national nuclear company,  Energoatom.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said this would bring the total of the UK’s non-military assistance to Ukraine to nearly £5bn.

It said the support would strengthen Ukraine’s energy security as it defends itself against the Russian invasion, as well as maintain its independence from Russian nuclear fuel.

Ukraine has four nuclear power plants – including Europe’s largest at Zaporizhzhia – but before the Russian invasion in February 2022 it had been receiving most of its nuclear services and fuel from Russia.

It has been reducing its dependence and in June last year signed a deal with US company Westinghouse to supply fuel to all its nuclear power stations.

Mr Shapps said: “Our support for Ukraine is unwavering in the face of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s barbaric invasion – the UK continues to stand with Ukraine as they repel Russian attacks and rebuild their country.”

He added: “Putin has used energy as a weapon of war: the action today to support nuclear fuel deliveries will help Ukraine end their reliance on Russian supplies and bolster their energy security.”

The UK announcement comes after a meeting of G7 energy ministers in Japan earlier this year, where the UK, US, Canada, Japan and France agreed a new nuclear fuel alliance in an attempt to strengthen the sector in each country and push Russia out of the market.

Other European countries have also offered financial support to Ukraine’s energy sector through the Ukraine Energy Support Fund, which aims to repair damage caused by Russia to infrastructure and keep it running.

Grant Shapps visits kindergarten in Ukraine
Image caption,

Grant Shapps also visited a kindergarten while in Ukraine

Last year, Mr Shapps took in a Ukrainian family as part of the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

While in Ukraine, Mr Shapps visited a kindergarten, which was damaged by Russian shelling and was previously attended by Nikita, the young son of the family who lived with him.

The children performed a song before Mr Shapps played them a recorded message from Nikita.

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