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The U.K. Defense Ministry said on Sept. 14 that the refueling of a reactor in Ukraine's Rivne Nuclear Power Plant using Western supplies signifies a major step in the country's energy sector's decoupling from Russia.
On Sept. 10, Ukrainian state-owned nuclear energy operator Energoatom announced that a reactor in the Rivne plant was loaded with the first batch of nuclear fuel produced by the Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB company.
The U.K. report pointed out that all Ukraine's nuclear power stations are based on Soviet designs, and until February 2022 relied on Russia in terms of fuel.
Since the start of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine expedited the plans to diversify its supply to reduce dependency on Moscow, the ministry said.
London suggested that since nuclear energy covers roughly half of Ukraine's electricity, Energoatom's success in installing Western fuel "is a major waypoint in Ukraine's long-term decoupling from Russia."
The Rivne plant in western Ukraine is one of the country's four active nuclear power stations, including the Khmelnytskyi plant, the South Ukraine plant, and the largest Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been occupied by Russia since March 2022.
Ukraine's energy infrastructure has come under significant strain during the last fall and winter as Russia attempted to cripple it through massive strikes, resulting in regular blackouts.
Kyiv officials warned that Moscow is likely to attempt a similar strategy during the fall and winter of 2023-2024. On Sept. 13, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that the country's energy infrastructure will be ready for the next winter season within a month.