MOSCOW, March 8 Rosatom, Russia's state energy
corporation, said on Saturday it would resume nuclear fuel
shipments to Europe via Ukraine after Kiev lifted a ban imposed
during anti-government protests earlier this year on
transporting the hazardous material.
The ban was introduced on Jan. 28 by the government of
now-deposed President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled the country
last month after a popular uprising.
Rosatom said the ban ended on Thursday and the first rail
shipment of nuclear fuel in 2014 via Ukraine to eastern Europe
was expected next week.
"Rosatom is committed to the secure supply and removal of
nuclear fuel to and from our customers across Europe. If there
are any further issues with rail transport by Ukraine, we will
ensure that deliveries are made on time by air," Rosatom
spokesman Vladislav Bochkov said.
Shipments will be carried out by Rosatom's subsidiary TVEL.
Nuclear power stations that have contracts with Rosatom for
the supply of nuclear fuel include Kozloduy in Bulgaria, Paks
in Hungary, Dukovany and Temelin in the Czech Republic, and
Bohunice in Slovakia.
Scores of people died in Kiev during clashes that led to a
takeover of power by the pro-Western opposition. Moscow
responded by sending troops to Ukraine's Crimean peninsula,
where a majority of the population is ethnic Russian.
So far, Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula has
Ukraine is also a key transit route for Russian natural gas
headed to Europe. On Friday, Russian state gas producer Gazprom
hinted that it may cut gas supplies to Ukraine - and
subsequently to Europe - due to Kiev's failure to pay on time
for the supplies.