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Published: Saturday March 8, 2014 MYT 10:20:02 PM
Updated: Saturday March 8, 2014 MYT 10:21:01 PM

Russia says restarts nuclear fuel transit to Europe via Ukraine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rosatom, Russia's state energy corporation, said on Saturday it would resume nuclear fuel shipments to Europe via Ukraine after Kiev lifted a ban imposed during anti-government protests earlier this year on transporting the hazardous material.

The ban was introduced on January 28 by the government of now-deposed President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled the country last month after a popular uprising.

Rosatom said the ban ended on Thursday and the first rail shipment of nuclear fuel in 2014 via Ukraine to eastern Europe was expected next week.

"Rosatom is committed to the secure supply and removal of nuclear fuel to and from our customers across Europe. If there are any further issues with rail transport by Ukraine, we will ensure that deliveries are made on time by air," Rosatom spokesman Vladislav Bochkov said.

Shipments will be carried out by Rosatom's subsidiary TVEL.

Nuclear power stations that have contracts with Rosatom for the supply of nuclear fuel include Kozloduy in Bulgaria, Paks in Hungary, Dukovany and Temelin in the Czech Republic, and Bohunice in Slovakia.

Scores of people died in Kiev during clashes that led to a takeover of power by the pro-Western opposition. Moscow responded by sending troops to Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, where a majority of the population is ethnic Russian.

So far, Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula has remained bloodless.

Ukraine is also a key transit route for Russian natural gas headed to Europe. On Friday, Russian state gas producer Gazprom hinted that it may cut gas supplies to Ukraine - and subsequently to Europe - due to Kiev's failure to pay on time for the supplies.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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