The bloc needs supplies from the sanctioned country for Russia-designed reactors © Getty Images / Thierry Monasse

The EU has stepped up imports of nuclear fuel and services from Russia over the past two years despite sanctions and export curbs targeting the country in connection with the Ukraine conflict, Reuters reported on Friday, citing the Euratom Supply Agency.

According to the report, the bloc continues to rely on supplies from the sanctioned country to operate Russia-designed VVER reactors used by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, and Slovakia.

The five states bought 30% more conversion services from Russia and 22% more enrichment for their reactors last year compared to 2021, and, according to ESA Stefano Ciccarello, are likely to surpass 2021 imports this year as well. He did not disclose the exact figures, however.

“Those [EU members] that are not reliant on Russia are trying to further reduce any such dependence. On the other hand, there are those fully dependent on Russian fuel who are increasing fuel stocks as contingency for any break in supplies before alternative fuel is licensed,” Ciccarello told Reuters.

Nuclear power accounts for roughly 10% of EU energy consumption, with France, Sweden, and Belgium among the bloc’s largest producers.

Russia’s nuclear sector has not been targeted by Brussels’ sanctions so far; however, several member-states have previously pitched the prospect of adding curbs on imports of nuclear fuel from Russia to the next round of punitive measures. Still, imposing EU sanctions requires unanimity of all the 27 EU countries, and Hungary and Slovakia have repeatedly stressed they would not support restrictions on Russian nuclear imports.

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