Monday

26th Feb 2018

Russia hits EU allies with symbolic food ban

  • The Iceland seafood ban is the biggest component of the new measures (Photo: European Commission)

Russia has extended its food import ban to four EU allies and threatened to impose future sanctions on Ukraine.

The extension covers Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Montenegro. The ban on Ukrainian agricultural exports is to come into effect on 1 January 2016 if Ukraine implements the trade provisions of its EU association treaty.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The four EU allies were targeted because they have aligned themselves with EU sanctions on Russia.

Two Western Balkan states, Macedonia and Serbia, were spared because their Russia-friendly governments have refused to join the EU sanctions regime despite being obliged to do so under their EU accession commitments.

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev signed the decree on Thursday (13 August).

"They [the four EU allies] said their decision to join the EU sanctions against Russia was motivated by a number of agreements with the European Union. This stance is only partly fair”, he told a cabinet meeting.

“I would like to note that a number of countries, which have a similar agreement with the European Union, have refused to impose sanctions against Russia. So, the decision to join the anti-Russian sanctions was a conscious choice, which means that the countries who did that are ready for the retaliatory measures”.

The new import ban is more of symbolic gesture than an economic blow.

Fish and fruit

The Iceland ban is the biggest. According to Russia’s Federal Customs Service, the Nordic state exported $232 million of mostly seafood to Russia in 2014.

Albania exported $10 million of fruit and dairy. Montenegro exported $40,000 of fruit and vegetables. Liechtenstein didn’t export any food.

The potential Ukraine ban is more significant, with food exports to Russia last year still worth $415 million, out of total exports of $11 billion, despite the conflict over Crimea and in east Ukraine.

Russia says the implementation of the free trade part of the EU-Ukraine pact will see its markets hit by cheap EU products.

The EU, Russia, and Ukraine, last September, agreed to delay the implementation to soothe Russia’s concerns.

EU institutions were drafting their reaction to the Russian threat on Friday morning.

But a senior EU diplomat told EUobserver: “I think it's an attempt to exert pressure on the trilateral talks in order to get as many concessions as possible before the deadline [1 January 2016]”.

He said “the real threat” is that Russia will axe its overall free trade agreement with Ukraine, hitting exports across the board.

But he added that, due to the conflict, “Ukraine-Russia trade has now, in any case, dropped drastically - it’s almost negligible”.

Bulldozers

Russia, earlier this month, began bulldozing and burning stockpiles of seized EU food and of Dutch flowers, which are subject to a separate ban.

The spectacle has prompted a debate in Russian society, with Russia’s Communist Party saying the food should instead be given to the poor.

Levada, an independent pollster, says 48 percent of Russians don’t support food destruction, but 40 percent do.

The pollster, on Thursday, also said 36 percent of Russians think Russia “won just as much as everyone else” from the end of the Cold War, but 29 percent think it “ended up as the loser”.

Sixty-two percent of Russians think Russian-Western relations will “always be rooted in mistrust”.

The new wave of Russian sanctions comes shortly after a flare-up in fighting in east Ukraine.

Asked if the political and military developments herald an intensification of the crisis, the senior EU diplomat said: “We’re going to be in this for the long haul”.

“The premises of the crisis are completely different for its different parties. For [Russian president] Putin, it’s about political survival, so he’s ready to sacrifice a lot. For the West, with the exception of Poland and the Baltic states, it’s just another crisis”.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

Opinion

EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy

Not extending the EU fisheries deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coast of Western Sahara could deprive the Sahrawi people of much-needed income - and throw into question future EU foreign policy in the name of human rights.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?