Czech minister says Ukraine crisis means Russia might lose lucrative nuclear contract

PRAGUE – A Russian company might lose a multibillion-dollar contract to build two nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, two members of the Czech government said on Monday.

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said that under the current circumstances he can “hardly imagine” that Russia would be in charge of the project at the Temelin plant. Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier backed his comments.

U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and a consortium led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport are bidding to build the reactors.

The deal — estimated to be worth more than $10 billion — will bring the number of reactors at Temelin to four. The state has a majority stake in a company that owns the plant.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka was more cautious Monday, saying that his country does not plan to cancel all its business relations with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Top government leaders from both Russia and the United States — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011 and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2012 — travelled to Prague to lobby the Czech government to approve their bids.

Czech leaders have condemned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region, comparing it to the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.