Finland plans to build a nuclear power plant, buying the reactor from Russia.
Two professors told Yle that the Fennovoima nuclear power plant project, which is partly owned by Russian companies, carries big risks related to the Russian nuclear industry.
The project uses a reactor from the Russian state company Rosatom, which also produces Russian nuclear weapons.
“If we invest in Russian nuclear energy in this current structure of Fennovoima, we directly support the production of Russian nuclear weapons and therefore also Vladimir Poutinegeopolitical objectives,” said Veli-Pekka Tynkkynenprofessor of Russian environmental policy.
The project was approved in 2014, with Rosatom holding a 35% stake. The other shareholders are mostly Finnish energy companies, with a Croatian company apparently owned by two students holding a crucial stake.
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Without this participation, the holding company would not have enough EU-based owners to meet security requirements.
The decision to grant a permit was controversial at the time, with the Green League leaving the Prime Minister by Alexander Stubb (NCP) in protest.
Final building permits are to be granted this year, with nuclear regulator STUK due to assess the project.
Professor of international trade Kari Liuhto said the project seemed too risky, in his view.
“The Fennovoima project will surely be on the government’s agenda this year,” Liuhto said. “If Russia attacks Ukraine, in my opinion, the project should be stopped.
Nuclear power increases dependence on Russia
Rosatom became the project’s largest single shareholder in 2014, shortly after Russia illegally annexed Crimea.
Tynkkynen rejects the idea that energy markets and trade interdependencies can create the conditions for peace between Putin’s Russia and the West.
Parliament had approved the Fennovoima project in part to reduce Finland’s dependence on Russia for energy supplies. In fact, the project increases Russia’s share in Finland’s energy mix.
“In addition to oil, gas, coal, uranium and timber, Finland would also depend on Russian nuclear power generation,” Tynkkynen said.
Tynkkynen also said that Russia could use its stake in Fennovoima to put pressure on Finland.
“Rosatom’s chances of influencing Finland through the Fennovoima project should be seen as a loaded weapon, in a way,” Tynkkynen said.
“Although the ‘weapon’ is never unloaded, it gives leverage over Finland. Knowing what we do with Russia’s history of hybrid attacks, I would not give Russia additional opportunities to influence through critical infrastructures.”
Reporters from Yle’s MOT program asked politicians, including the president Sauli NiinistoPrime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and former prime ministers Antti Rinne (SDP), Alexander Stubb (PCN) and Juha Sipila (Cen) for an interview on the subject, but all the politicians refused to discuss it.
Fennovoima also declined to comment.