U.S.-Ukraine “partnership” threatens new Chernobyl-style disaster

More bad nuclear news out of Ukraine.

From Fort Russ

April 27, 2015 –
Leonid Savin, Katehon

 

April 26, 2016 will mark the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion of the 4th reactor at the Chernobyl power plant, the effects of which are felt to this very day. This comes at a time when alarming news has arrived which evokes concern over the future of Ukraine’s nuclear industry.
The problems started  along with the “Maidan” coup backed by the US and EU, because Washington immediately started to lobby for a large deal in its own interests, including nuclear industry projects.
The Ukrainian state enterprise Energoatom and the Westinghouse Company (US), agreed in 2014 to extend the contract to supply Ukrainian nuclear power plants with US nuclear fuel, until 2020.
But the use of US produced fuel for Soviet reactors is not compatible with their design, and violates security requirements, and could lead to disasters comparable with what happened in Chernobyl. The International Union of Veterans of Nuclear Energy and Industry (IUVNEI) issued the following statement on April 25th, that “Nuclear fuel produced by the US firm Westinghouse does not meet the technical requirements of Soviet-era reactors, and using it could cause an accident on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster, which took place on the 26th April 1986.” The IUVNEI brings together more than 15,000 nuclear industry veterans from Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland, the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. It was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Moscow.
Four years ago, there was a near-miss in the Ukraine, when a TVS-W unit with damaged distancing armatures, nearly experienced a significant uncontrolled release of dangerous radiation. Only by a miracle was there no disaster at the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant. But it did not prevent the signing of the agreement. A Czech nuclear power plant experienced a depressurization of fuel elements produced by Westinghouse several years ago, followed by the Czech government’s abandoning the company as a fuel supplier. According to Yuri Nedashkovsky, the president of the country’s state-owned nuclear utility Energoatom, on April 23th, 2014 Ukraine’s interim government ordered an allocation of 45.2 hectares of land for the construction of a nuclear waste storage site within the depopulated exclusion area around the plant of Chernobyl, between the villages of Staraya Krasnitsa, Buryakovka, Chistogalovka and Stechanka in the Kiev Region (the Central Spent Fuel Storage Project for Ukraine’s VVER reactors). The fuel is to come from Khmelnitsky, Rovno and South Ukraine nuclear power plants.
At present, used fuel is mostly transported to a new dry-storage facility at the Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Factory in the Krasnoyarsk region, and storage and reprocessing plant Mayak in the Chelyabinsk region; the both facilities are situated in the Russian Federation.
In 2003, Ukraine started to look for alternatives to the Russian storage units. In December 2005, Energoatom signed a 127.8 million euro agreement with the US-based Holtec International to implement the Central Spent Fuel Storage Project for Ukraine’s VVER reactors. Holtec’s work involved design, licensing, construction, commissioning of the facility, and the supply of transport and vertical ventilated dry storage systems for used VVER nuclear fuel. By the end of 2011 Holtec International had to close its office in Kiev as it had come under harsh criticism worldwide. It is widely believed that the company has lost licenses in some countries because of the poor quality of its containers resulting in radiation leaks.  Westinghouse and Holtec are members of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC). Morgan Williams, President/CEO of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, has worked in Ukraine since the 1990’s.
“Today is one of the most important days since Ukraine’s independence as the efforts of these two internationally known companies will go a long way to assuring that Ukraine has greater energy independence,” he said at the ceremony devoted to  Westinghouse Electric Company and Holtec International signing contracts with Ukraine. The President of USUBC added, “This is made more important by the fact that for Ukraine, energy and political independence are closely interdependent. I join all of the USUBC members in toasting the success of these two great member companies, as we all work to assist Ukraine on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration and a strong democratic, private market driven nationhood.”
Morgan Williams is known as a lobbyist representing the interests of Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil in Ukraine. He has direct links with Freedom House which is involved in staging “color revolutions” in Eurasia, North Africa and Latin America.
One more interesting fact to be mentioned here. In Spring 2014 it was reported that according to covert agreements reached between Ukraine’s interim government and its European partners, the nuclear waste coming from EU member states would be stored in Ukraine.  Being in violation of the law, the deal is kept secret. Some high standing officials in Kiev were remunerated. It is said that Alexander Musychko (Sashko Biliy), a prominent nationalist from Rovno, tried to blackmail the Kiev rulers threatening to make the conspiracy public. That’s why he was killed, on the orders of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov.
US is the main manager of the self-isolation of the Ukrainian regime from Russia, which has greatly impacted cooperation between two countries, as well as in the area of nuclear security. The administration of the Chernobyl nuclear plant has stated clearly that the process is going in wrong way.

The corporate annexation of Ukraine — “a gold mine of profits”

The Ecologist, March 21, 2014

As the US and EU apply sanctions on Russia over its annexation’ of Crimea, JP Sottile reveals the corporate annexation of Ukraine. For Cargill, Chevron, Monsanto, there’s a gold mine of profits to be made from agri-business and energy exploitation.

Ukraine – the corporate annexation

by JP Sottile

The potential here for agriculture / agribusiness is amazing … production here could double … Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.

On 12th January 2014, a reported 50,000 “pro-Western” Ukrainians descended upon Kiev’s Independence Square to protest against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Stoked in part by an attack on opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, the protest marked the beginning of the end of Yanukovych’s four year-long government.

That same day, the Financial Times reported a major deal for US agribusiness titan Cargill.

Business confidence never faltered

Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming.

According to the Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer. And those aren’t the only eggs in Cargill’s increasingly ample basket.

On 13th December 2013, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea grain terminal at Novorossiysk on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

The port – to the east of Russia’s strategically and historically important Crimean naval base – gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Cargill has been in Ukraine for over two decades, investing in grain elevators and acquiring a major Ukrainian animal feed company in 2011. And, based on its investment in UkrLandFarming, Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.

It’s a stark juxtaposition to the alarm bells ringing out from the US media, bellicose politicians on Capitol Hill and perplexed policymakers in the White House.

Instability – what instablility?

It’s even starker when compared to the anxiety expressed by Morgan Williams, President and CEO of the US-Ukraine Business Council – which, according to its website, has been “Promoting US-Ukraine business relations since 1995.”

Williams was interviewed by the International Business Times on March 13 and, despite Cargill’s demonstrated willingness to spend, he said, “The instability has forced businesses to just go about their daily business and not make future plans for investment, expansion and hiring more employees.”

In fact, Williams, who does double-duty as Director of Government Affairs at the private equity firm SigmaBleyzer, claimed, “Business plans have been at a standstill.”

Apparently, he wasn’t aware of Cargill’s investment, which is odd given the fact that he could’ve simply called Van A. Yeutter, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Cargill, and asked him about his company’s quite active business plan.

There is little doubt Williams has the phone number because Mr. Yuetter serves on the Executive Committee of the selfsame US-Ukraine Business Council. It’s quite a cozy investment club, too.

According to his SigmaBleyzer profile, Williams “started his work regarding Ukraine in 1992” and has since advised American agribusinesses “investing in the former Soviet Union.” As an experienced fixer for Big Ag, he must be fairly friendly with the folks on the Executive Committee.

Big Ag luminaries – Monsanto, Eli Lilly, Dupont, John Deere …

And what a committee it is – it’s a veritable who’s who of Big Ag. Among the luminaries working tirelessly and no doubt selflessly for a better, freer Ukraine are:

  • Melissa Agustin, Director, International Government Affairs & Trade for Monsanto
  • Brigitte Dias Ferreira, Counsel, International Affairs for John Deere
  • Steven Nadherny, Director, Institutional Relations for agriculture equipment-maker CNH Industrial
  • Jeff Rowe, Regional Director for DuPont Pioneer
  • John F. Steele, Director, International Affairs for Eli Lilly & Company

And, of course, Cargill’s Van A. Yeutter. But Cargill isn’t alone in their warm feelings toward Ukraine. As Reuters reported in May 2013, Monsanto – the largest seed company in the world – plans to build a $140 million “non-GM (genetically modified) corn seed plant in Ukraine.”

And right after the decision on the EU trade deal, Jesus Madrazo, Monsanto’s Vice President for Corporate Engagement, reaffirmed his company’s “commitment to Ukraine” and “the importance of creating a favorable environment that encourages innovation and fosters the continued development of agriculture.”

Monsanto’s strategy includes a little “hearts and minds” public relations, too. On the heels of Mr. Madrazo’s reaffirmation, Monsanto announced “a social development program titled ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ to help rural villagers in the country improve their quality of life.”

The initiative will dole out grants of up to $25,000 to develop programs providing “educational opportunities, community empowerment, or small business development.”

Immense economic importance

The well-crafted moniker ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ is telling because, once upon a time, Ukraine was known as ‘the breadbasket’ of the Soviet Union. The CIA ranks Soviet-era Ukraine second only to Mother Russia as the “most economically important component of the former Soviet Union.”

In many ways, the farmland of Ukraine was the backbone of the USSR. Its fertile black soil generated over a quarter of the USSR’s agriculture. It exported substantial quantities of food to other republics and its farms generated four times the output of the next-ranking republic.

Although Ukraine’s agricultural output plummeted in the first decade after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the farming sector has been growing spectacularly in recent years.

While Europe struggled to shake-off the Great Recession, Ukraine’s agriculture sector grew 13.7% in 2013.

Ukraine’s agriculture economy is hot. Russia’s is not. Hampered by the effects of climate change and 25 million hectares of uncultivated agricultural land, Russia lags behind its former breadbasket.

According to the Centre for Eastern Studies, Ukraine’s agricultural exports rose from $4.3 billion in 2005 to $17.9 billion in 2012 and, harkening the heyday of the USSR, farming currently accounts for 25% of its total exports. Ukraine is also the world’s third-largest exporter of wheat and of corn. And corn is not just food. It is also ethanol.

Feeding Europe

But people gotta eat – particularly in Europe. As Frank Holmes of US Global Investors assessed in 2011, Ukraine is poised to become Europe’s butcher. Meat is difficult to ship, but Ukraine is perfectly located to satiate Europe’s hunger.

Just two days after Cargill bought into UkrLandFarming, Global Meat News reported a huge forecasted spike in “all kinds” of Ukrainian meat exports, with an increase of  8.1% overall and staggering 71.4% spike in pork exports.

No wonder Eli Lilly is represented on the US-Ukraine Business Council’s Executive Committee. Its Elanco Animal Health unit is a major manufacturer of feed supplements.

And it is also notable that Monsanto’s planned seed plant is non-GMO, perhaps anticipating an emerging GMO-unfriendly European market and Europe’s growing appetite for organic foods. When it comes to Big Ag’s profitable future in Europe, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A long string of Russian losses

For Russia and its hampered farming economy, it’s another in a long string of losses to US encroachment – from NATO expansion into Eastern Europe to US military presence to its south and onto a major shale gas development deal recently signed by Chevron in Ukraine.

So, why was Big Ag so bullish on Ukraine, even in the face of so much uncertainty and the predictable reaction by Russia?

The answer is that the seeds of Ukraine’s turn from Russia have been sown for the last two decades by the persistent Cold War alliance between corporations and foreign policy. It’s a version of the ‘Deep State‘ that is usually associated with the oil and defense industries, but also exists in America’s other heavily subsidized industry – agriculture.

Morgan Williams is at the nexus of Big Ag’s alliance with US foreign policy. To wit, SigmaBleyzer touts Mr. Williams’ work with “various agencies of the US government, members of Congress, congressional committees, the Embassy of Ukraine to the US, international financial institutions, think tanks and other organizations on US-Ukraine business, trade, investment and economic development issues.”

Freedom – for US business

As President of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Williams has access to Council cohort – David Kramer, President of Freedom House. Officially a non-governmental organization, it has been linked with overt and covert ‘democracy’ efforts in places where the door isn’t open to American interests – aka US corporations.

Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the US Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Department of State.

David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.

Nuland’s $5 billion for Ukrainian ‘democracy’

That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the US-Ukrainian Foundation last 13th December, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”

Nuland also told the group that the United States had invested more than $5 billion in support of Ukraine’s “European aspirations” – meaning pulling Ukraine away from Russia. She made her remarks on a dais featuring a backdrop emblazoned with a Chevron logo.

Also, her colleague and phone call buddy US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt helped Chevron cook up their 50-year shale gas deal right in Russia’s kitchen.

Coca-Cola, Exxon-Mobil, Raytheon

Although Chevron sponsored that event, it is not listed as a supporter of the Foundation. But the Foundation does list the Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil and Raytheon as major sponsors. And, to close the circle of influence, the US-Ukraine Business Council is also listed as a supporter.

Which brings the story back to Big Ag’s fixer – Morgan Williams.

Although he was glum about the current state of investment in Ukraine, he’s gotta wear shades when he looks into the future. He told the International Business Times:

“The potential here for agriculture / agribusiness is amazing … production here could double.  The world needs the food Ukraine could produce in the future. Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.”

Of course, his priority is to ensure that the bread of well-connected businesses gets lavishly buttered in Russia’s former breadbasket. And there is no better connected group of Ukraine-interested corporations than American agribusiness.

Given the extent of US official involvement in Ukrainian politics – including the interesting fact that Ambassador Pyatt pledged US assistance to the new government in investigating and rooting-out corruption – Cargill’s seemingly risky investment strategy probably wasn’t that risky, after all.

 

J P Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs at Newsvandal.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @newsvandal

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2328765/ukraine_the_corporate_annexation.html

This article was first published on Consortium News

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/03/16/corporate-interests-behind-ukraine-putsch/