Russia takes on EU: Vladimir Putin extends brutal boycott on Brussels food imports

Russia imposed an embargo on a wide range of imports from the EU and other countries in 2014 in retaliation for international sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis. The ban covers meats, dairy products and fruit and vegetables, and its scope was further extended in October 2017. The document, which has been published on Russia’s official portal of legal information, reads: “To extend from January 1 to December 31, 2020 the operation of certain special economic measures stipulated by the presidential decree of August 6, 2014.”

The Kremlin’s ban applies imports of certain agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from Western countries which target Russia with sanctions over its activities in Ukraine.

Countries targeted include the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Norway, Iceland, Albania, Montenegro, Liechtenstein, and Ukraine.

The embargo was a response to the sanctions, which were imposed by the US and EU in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, as well of alleged involvement in the military conflict in the eastern of the country.

The sanctions have targeted Russian economy’s finance, energy and defence sectors.

They have hurt the Russian economy, restricting access to global financial markets and cutting imports of key technologies.

They made lifting restrictions contingent on the progress of a 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

Russia blames Ukraine for the peace agreement’s failure.

Mr Putin’s announcement follows the EU’s decision to extend economic sanctions against Russia for another year.

An assessment of the situation published on the website of the European Commission in 2017 stated: “The ban has clearly had an impact on EU agri-food exports to Russia, which dropped from around €11.8 billion in 2013 to around €6 billion in 2017.

“After the year-to-year declines following the ban, in 2017 the EU agri-food exports to Russia have recovered and increased by 20 percent in comparison to 2016.

“Russia moved up to become the EU’s fourth largest export destination for agri-food products after the US, China and Switzerland.

Overall EU exports of agri-food products have continuously increased since the introduction of the ban, reaching a record €138 billion in 2017, 5.2 percent higher than in 2016 and 15 percent higher than in 2013.

“Only, fruit, poultry meat and milk powder (products under embargo) had lower export values in 2017 than in 2013.”

Speaking earlier this year, Mr Putin said Government agencies would continue to destroy all products imported from Western countries.

He said although destroying food “was not pretty”, it was required in order to support Russian food producers.

Russia’s Federal Customs Service (FCS) has said it believes there is large-scale smuggling taking place, largely from the EU to Russia.