Bellona publishes new report on Rosatom’s role in the Ukraine invasion

Publish date: December 7, 2023

As the Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine lurches into its second year, extending the suffering and death of countless thousands, nearly the entire Russian economy has been shifted onto military footing.

As the Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine lurches into its second year, extending the suffering and death of countless thousands, nearly the entire Russian economy has been shifted onto military footing.

Within this process, Rosatom, Russia’s putatively civilian state nuclear corporation, has emerged as a major player on the battlefield. Our new report, “Rosatom during the war: how militarization of the Russian nuclear giant took place,” explores the process that morphed one of the world’s most powerful nuclear energy corporations into one of Moscow’s most potent weapons in Ukraine — and beyond.

This transformation is something Bellona has closely observed, and we have published previous reports outlining Rosatom’s steps toward militarization in the period leading up to mid-2022.

In this new report, Bellona goes further with that analysis, reporting its research from where the last report left off to the present day. The report also explores Rosatom’s prospects, both within Russia and abroad — with special emphasis on the commanding role it often plays in foreign politics.

In preparing this report, Bellona authors proceed from the understanding that the war in Ukraine will lead to sweeping, long-term changes, primarily in the warring countries — which doubtless will affect their respective nuclear industries.

With this in mind, Bellona set the goal of establishing Rosatom’s nature as the war progressed, as well as examining that newly-emerged structure in the context of shifting world economics and politics, particularly sanctions directed against Russian — and whether they are having any effect on Rosatom as a whole.

To achieve this, we have analyzed the following questions:

Chapter I. How a militarized Rosatom functions  — This chapter gives a brief analysis of the changes that have taken place in the structure of Rosatom since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. In particular, we pay attention to the new non-traditional businesses that Rosatom is currently developing. According to information published before the war began, by 2030 Rosatom intends to increase the percentage of its turnover from new businesses to 30%.

Chapter II. Results of activity of Rosatom’s main divisions in the wartime period. This chapter examines certain features of the activity of Rosatom’s main divisions which appeared in the war period. Special attention is given to the economy of Rosatom’s foreign projects. The nuclear weapons complex is covered in more details, particularly recent events at the Novaya Zemlya Arctic nuclear testing ground.

Chapter III. Rosatom’s foreign projects in the wartime period. Foreign nuclear projects have great significance for Russia and Rosatom in particular. This represents not  just not an economic, but also a military and political state aspiration. Throughout the wartime period, the active re-orientation of Rosatom’s activity has been observed. For obvious reasons, Rosatom is leaving the European and North American markets and actively looking for a foothold in South Asian and African countries. Recently, Rosatom has become more active in South America. To create an anti-western coalition, Russia now needs friends more than ever, and it is unimportant who they are and what authority and international recognition they have. Therefore, Rosatom, remaining in the field of state interests, will continue to look for partners in countries that are “friendly” to Russia.

Chapter IV. Rosatom at occupied nuclear facilities. Bellona provides very detailed coverage of what is happening on occupied nuclear sites in Ukraine. This chapter gives an analysis of certain features of the state of the Zaporizhzhia NPP (ZNPP) and events taking place at this site, in particular information on the presence of IAEA representatives at the nuclear plant and the tasks that they solve there.

Find the report here.