MINSK, December 19. /TASS/. Moscow is ready to continue helping Minsk develop its nuclear industry, although it could earn money by supplying additional volumes of gas, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday at talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
"We are intensively working in almost all areas. In the energy sector - as we noted with [Belarusian President] Alexander Grigorievich [Lukashenko], Russia, to its own detriment, nevertheless continues the nuclear project - we are building a nuclear power plant. The first unit is operational," the Russian leader said.
Putin explained that Russia could supply additional gas to Belarus, but instead the nuclear power plant is operating there, and the amount of energy it generates corresponds to about 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas.
"We are ready to further develop this project, work, and build units. But, in my opinion, the most important thing is that we are ready (and we are doing this) to create an industry, train local personnel, and develop science in an appropriate way. We have such preliminary agreements. We are ready to discuss and act, to move further in this direction," the Russian President assured.
The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built near the city of Ostrovets, in the Grodno region. Its construction is based on the standard Russian project AES-2006. BelNPP consists of two power units with a capacity of 1,200 MW each. Atomstroyexport (part of the Rosatom corporation) is the general contractor. On November 3, 2020, the first power unit of the BelNPP was included in the country's unified energy system, and on June 10, 2021 it was put into commercial operation. In December 2021, fresh nuclear fuel was loaded into the reactor of the second power unit, from which the physical launch began. The commissioning of the second power unit was scheduled for the end of 2022, then postponed to the beginning of 2023. Currently, it is 97% completed.