Nuclear blackmail. What for Russia needs Zaporizhya NPP, and what risks it bears for Ukraine

August 09, 2022

The Russian invaders led by Rosatom officials are implementing a scenario of disconnecting ZNPP from Ukraine’s United Energy System (UES) and connecting it to the Unified Energy System of the Russian Federation, including the occupied Crimea, with simultaneous subordination of the Ukrainian power plant to Rosatom. Rosatom plans to complete all associated technical works before September 1, 2022, including those related with the restoration of the power transmission lines towards the Crimea.

If this scenario is implemented, Ukraine will lose 6 GW of capacity (45% of all Ukrainian nuclear power plants), generating the cheapest electricity among all types of generation. Together with the loss of numerous TPPs and generation plants using RES, the total losses of Ukraine’s UES may exceed 10 GW. This can seriously undermine plans of electricity export and create risks for energy supply in the autumn-winter period. At the same time, the losses of the Ukrainian economy under this scenario may reach more than USD 3 billion in course of the year.

The recent increase in provocations at ZNPP by the Russian armed forces has two reasons: finding an excuse to disconnect ZNPP from the UES, and intensifying nuclear blackmail to disrupt the plans of the Armed Forces of Ukraine General Staff to liberate southern Ukraine.

Ideally, the arrival of the IAEA inspection team at the ZNPP might result in documentation of violations of nuclear safety rules by the Russian invaders and pressure of the international community on the Kremlin for withdrawal of Russian units from Enerhodar and the return of ZNPP to the full effective control of Energoatom NAEC.

Apparently, hoping for this scenario, the Ukrainian authorities instructed the President of Energoatom NAEC Mr. Kotin to urgently change his position regarding the IAEA intention to check the plant operation. On the other hand, there are risks that the Kremlin is preparing a special operation to legalise ZNPP subordination to Rosatom, using informal influence of the Russian special services on the IAEA, nuclear blackmail, and manipulative accusation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces of shelling NPP facilities. In addition, providing security guarantees to IAEA inspectors in the territory controlled by Russian terrorists remains a problem.

Volodymyr Omelchenko

Director, Energy Programmes

Born in 1967 in Kyiv

Education: Kyiv Politechnic Institute, Department of Chemical Engineering (1992)

Author of over 50 scientific works and op-ed publications. Took part in development and implementation of international energy projects and scientific research in international energy policy


1992 – 1996 — worked in different positions in the mechanical engineering industry

1997 – 1998 — Head Expert of the Division of Oil, Gas and Petroleum Refining Industry of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine

1998 – 2003 — Naftohaz Ukrayiny National Joint-Stock Company, in Charge of Oil Transportation Section

2004 – 2007 — Chief Consultant at the National Institute of International Security Problems of Ukraine’s NSDC

since February, 2007 — Leading Expert, Razumkov Centre. Director of Energy Programmes since 2013

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