Why Belarus and Russia can not agree on the construction of nuclear power plants?

Once again failed to sign a package of agreements on the construction of a nuclear power plant. Economic or political reasons prevent this? What is the meaning of Russian demands? Is it profitable to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus such conditions?

Members: Vice-Dean, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs of the State University — Higher School of Economics Andrew Suzdaltsev from Moscow and economist Leonid Zlotnikov from Minsk.

Andrew Suzdaltsev

Economic or political reasons?

Valery Karbalevich: "The package of agreements on the construction of a nuclear power plant should be signed in the first quarter of 2009. But halfway through this year, and so far nothing. Maybe the reason is that the current political situation is not very favorable for the start of the project. Conflict between leadership of Russia and Belarus reached a peak. So all the same — political or economic reasons? "

Andrew Suzdaltsev: "Political reasons related to the fact that Lukashenko — nedogovorosposoben. Relations between Belarus and Russia are in a major crisis. Minsk Therefore, all loans are under tight control. In the Russian political class, it is believed that the Belarusian government is considering Russian loans as aid, that is, — that they will not return. Therefore, in June 2009 Russia has stopped lending to Belarus. And now Moscow determines the allocation of the loan to Minsk at the plant strict conditions. To protect yourself for the return of the loan. "

Leonid Zlotnikov: "I think here there are both economic and political, and ideological reasons. Russian leadership is very critical of the Belarusian model of development. Because afraid that Belarus will soon become insolvent and unable to return these loans.

The second point. Trends in the development of Belarus may lead to the fact that the existence of a nuclear power plant in Belarus can be risky, including Russia. We know examples of Iran and North Korea. "

What is the meaning of Russian demands?

Leonid Zlotnikov

Karbalevich: "The fact that the lender puts conditions — this is a common practice. Russia refuses to sign a package of agreements on the construction of nuclear power plants until the joint venture for the sale of electricity. Russian What is the meaning of requirements? Station has not yet started to build, and Russia already divides skin killed bear? "

Suzdal: "Build a nuclear power plant is easy. Russia is building a few units abroad. Problem in control. Nuclear facility will be located 800 km from Moscow, 160 km from Kaliningrad. And he will be in the hands of an authoritarian leader who quickly changes its position. And it's dangerous.

The requirement that Russia had a 50% joint venture for the sale of electricity — is a guarantee that the loan will be repaid. In addition, this is not very industrial region within 7-8 years will be built several nuclear power plants. In February of this year, Russia began construction of the Kaliningrad nuclear power plant. Lithuania plans to build a station on the EU money. So soon there will be excess electricity. "

Karbalevich: "The idea that it is dangerous to give into the hands of the authoritarian leader of the NPP, maybe it is right. But why Russia still did not notice it, why had given into the hands of the leader of the $ 50 billion, why protect him from criticism of the international community?"

Zlotnikov: "International experience shows that countries often do not return the loans. In this case, they cheat. Why Russia wants to control the revenue NPP to bring back loans."

Or advantageous Belarus such conditions?

Valery Karbalevich

Karbalevich: "Is it profitable to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus such conditions? Whose will be the station? If the income divide in half, then the costs of building and divide in half. Why then build a very risky in terms of both environmental and financial security of the facility to share the profits?"

Suzdal: "The problem of the Belarusian leadership. Precisely it wanted to build a nuclear power plant. When Minsk do not like such conditions in Russia, let builds for their money."

"Mr. Suzdaltsev, you were led to the conclusion that the project of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is likely to be loss-making since being built in the region of several nuclear power plants. If so, what is the point to create a joint venture for the sale of electricity, if you know that the project is unprofitable ? "

Suzdal: "Russia can not influence the decision of the Belarusian authorities to build a nuclear power plant."

Zlotnikov: "If the income divide in half, and then it is logical to share costs in half. Russian condition, can, and logical. But only as long as the loan is not returned. When Belarus will pay with Russia, then a joint venture to be liquidated, and the sale of electricity will remain in the hands of the Belarusian side. "

Suzdal: "I think Russia will not agree to these conditions."

The political project

Karbalevich: "I have no doubt that this project will pay off at least one day. In the world of nuclear power plants are heavily subsidized by the state. The construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant — it is not a commercial project, but rather political. "

Zlotnikov: "NPP can pay off. Bulk of electricity generated by the station will be consumed in Belarus. And you can set such prices above world to offset the cost of building nuclear power plants."

Karbalevich: "Then what's the point of this project? In this case, the Belarusian products will be uncompetitive in world markets. "

Zlotnikov: "It is possible to compensate for losses due to high utility tariffs for the population."

Suzdal: "From the very beginning of construction of the NPP was a political project. Lukashenko wants to turn it into a political PR. Introduction of each unit would be a political victory for the president. This would be a long-term legalization of his power. Was important to start the construction of nuclear power plants under the election. Swim out from under him fourth , fifth, sixth presidential term of Lukashenka. And from the point of view of economic nuclear power can replace only 15-20% of the electricity.

And one more thing. Lukashenko as saying, countries with nuclear power plants, not bomb. He understands that the threat to his regime can only come from the outside. So he insures his power. "

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