Moscow: Russia on Monday said the ongoing crisis with Ukraine will not hamper the nuclear cooperation between the two countries.
"The evacuation of spent fuel from Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants to Russia will be done as per the contract. We live up to the liability as contractors," said Anzhelika Khaperskaya, Chief Manager of Spent Nuclear Fuel System Creation of Rosatom.
Ukraine has four NPPs with a capacity of more than 13,000 MW. Most of these reactors were built when Ukraine was still a part of the USSR.
The country also sends it spent fuel to Russia for reprocessing and gets crucial fuel from its mighty neighbour.
Nuclear power is also important for Ukraine because it produces more than 50 per cent of the electricity from the atomic source.
"In March some 25-27 tonnes of spent fuel were transported from one of the nuclear plant to Russia. There are three other plants from which the spent fuel has to be transported. After reprocessing, the fuel will be given back to Ukraine in some years," Khaperskaya said.
Some countries like India and Russia reprocess the spent fuel as they have elaborate infrastructure while some countries lack such facilities. The spent fuel is also important as crucial elements like plutonium is extracted for further use. It also acts as fuel to Fast Breeder Reactors.
"Reprocessed fuel is less harmful and can be radioactive free in 300 years compared to unprocessed fuel which may take thousands of years to be radioactive free," Khaperskaya said, adding that Russia reprocess spent fuel from over 15 countries including Hungary, Belarus and Latvia.
"Joint agreement between Russia and Ukraine talks about zero refusal which means Russia has to accept the spent fuel for reprocessing and also give nuclear fuel," said Sergey Barbashev, vice-president of Ukranian Nuclear Society.
The two East European countries have been at loggerheads over the issue of Crimea - an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority.
Russia annexed Crimea in March following which the pro-Russian rebels seized control of parts of eastern Ukraine and demanded its independence.
Russia, however, has maintained that it will abide all the contracts signed with Ukraine.