RWE must stop financing Putin’s war against Ukraine

Vladimir Slivyak received the Right Livelihood Award 2022

Statement by Vladimir Slivyak, Ecodefense Russia, to the RWE AG Annual General Meeting on 28 April 2022*

The world is approaching yet another anniversary of the worst nuclear reactor accident in history, which happened 36 years ago in Chernobyl, then the Soviet Union. War in Ukraine brought it back on the agenda as Russian troops attacked this idle nuclear plant not long ago. As long as the war continues, the risk of a new nuclear accident remains extremely high. This war needs to be stopped immediately and there is common international understanding everything possible must be done to achieve peace.

There are a few reasons why this terrible war started. But the most important one is that Russian President Vladimir Putin had enough money. This money came from exporting fossil fuels, first and foremost to the EU. This trade is still going on. Money that Putin gets from fuel trade is turned into bullets, guns, and missiles.

According to the campaign “Defuel Russia’s war machine”, Europe paid almost 100 billion Euros for Russian fuels last year alone. Russia supplied the EU with 45% of its gas, 46% of its coal, and 27% of its oil imports. But that’s not all. Russia also supplied about 20% of the nuclear fuel for European reactors.

RWE is one of big and most important trade partners to Russia. RWE has a long-term contract with Gazprom to provide 15 TWh of fossil gas by 2023, out of which 50% will be delivered within the next 12 months. It also has long-term contracts to import 12 million tons of coal by 2025, out of which 2 million tons will be imported within the next 12 months. The company’s planned joint venture with fossil giant Novatek for the supply of blue hydrogen is currently on hold but not officially canceled.

RWE also owns one sixth of Urenco, one of the most important nuclear fuel companies in the world. Urenco was deeply involved in cooperation with Russian nuclear industry. Although it said cooperation with Russia is suspended, it didn’t say it is cancelled.

It may look like Russia was a reliable partner until Putin suddenly decided to start a war. But there were signs showing that the path of war was chosen by Putin long ago. He went to war against Georgia in 2008 and against Ukraine in 2014. He demolished democratic institutions, repressed civil society and silenced independent media inside Russia. And for many European governments and companies, it was convenient to turn a blind eye on these developments. RWE was always one of them.

An even bigger war in Europe can be avoided only through cutting European dependence on Russian fuels thus depriving the Russian regime of the funds for war. Even if it takes enormous efforts – full embargo on Russian fuels must be introduced urgently and transition to renewable energy must be accelerated dramatically. I call on RWE to cease all cooperation with Russia to stop the funding for Putin’s wars.

*) Vladimir Slivyak delivered his statement during the press conference “RWE: Blue Planet instead of Dead Planet” on 26 April 2022. The press conference was organised by the Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany.

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