Deputy PM says the measure is being discussed as a response to the US embargo on Russian energy resources
© Getty Images / Walter Bibikow
The Russian government is considering a ban on the supply of uranium to the US as a possible response to Washington’s embargo on Russian energy resources.
On March 8, President Joe Biden announced that his administration was banning Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the US as part of a sanctions package in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Uranium, which is not currently produced in the US, has not appeared on the sanctions lists.
Speaking to parliamentarians and reporters on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak discussed plans to diversify Russia’s oil exports. Asked to comment on the idea of stopping uranium exports to the US as a potential “counter-sanction” measure, Novak replied that “this matter is also on the agenda, it is being reviewed.”
Almost half of the uranium being used by US nuclear power plants has been imported from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, despite the US having its own significant reserves.
US uranium mining sites in Texas and Wyoming, which boomed during the Cold War, have remained mothballed for a number of years. However, recent weeks saw some energy companies expressing readiness to resume production subject to agreement by nuclear power producers to commit to long-term agreements.
Speaking about the impact of the sanctions, Novak said that the US and UK embargo on Russian energy resources would not mean big losses for the Russian economy.
“This affected us to a lesser extent, because we supplied very little there… As for the United States, we supplied 3% of our total crude oil exports and 7% of our petroleum products,” he explained.
When it comes to Europe, in Novak’s opinion, there is no chance that the region would ban Russian energy supplies.
“It’s definitely impossible at the moment… The same is true for oil, now it’s impossible to replace Russian oil,” the deputy prime minister said.
He added that “in the extreme case,” Russian “would diversify deliveries towards Asian markets.”
Meanwhile, according to a Reuters report, EU ministers are set to discuss a ban on Russian oil as part of a fifth package of sanctions.
Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics with capitals in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.