The Ukrainian president on Friday accused Russia of seeking to monopolize the international nuclear fuel market, RIA Novosti reported.

"Our partners... are currently working actively to monopolize the uranium enrichment services market. This approach toward nuclear issues is in effect a repetition of the natural gas blackmail scenario that we saw in January," Viktor Yushchenko said.

Ukraine`s four nuclear power plants generated over 90,000 GWh in 2008. The country mines uranium, but has no industrial capacity for its enrichment.

All of Ukraine`s nuclear fuel is imported from Russia under an agreement that expires in 2010.

Yushchenko criticized the Ukrainian government for failing to draw lessons from the recent gas crisis and for "repeating their mistakes now in the nuclear power sector."

He stressed that the main guideline on nuclear fuel supplies to Ukraine should be "the principle of diversification."

The president accused his own government of engaging in blackmail and "backstage negotiations" in favor of Russia.

Yushchenko said the issue of diversification would be considered at a closed-door session of the National Security and Defense Council.

RIA Novosti