Like Brexit then? EU boasts ‘we’ve found alternative markets after Russia row’

Russia initially 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, before being extended still further last week. A spokeswoman for the European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch, said: “The EU believes that the Russian ban against EU agri-food products is not justified, since it is retaliatory in nature.

“Despite the difficulties caused by the Russian ban, the EU agri-food sector has been remarkably resilient.

“In most regions, most of the affected sectors have been able to find alternative markets, either within the EU or beyond.

“Since the imposition of the embargo, the value of EU exports increased and reached a record value of €141 billion in April 2019.

“The Commission is and will continue to play its full role in assisting European farmers.”

A Kremlin document published on Russia’s official portal of legal information last week 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 ban covers various agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from Western countries which targeted Russia with sanctions over its activities in Ukraine.

In addition to the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, Iceland, Albania, Montenegro, Liechtenstein, and Ukraine are also excluded.

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.

Crimea is a key strategic base jutting out into the Black Sea which Mr Putin has always regarded as rightfully Russia’s territory.

The sanctions against Russia 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 failure of the peace agreement.

Earlier this year, Mr Putin said Government agencies would destroy all products imported from Western countries.

He admitted destroying food “was not pretty”, but said it was necessary to support Russian food producers.

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

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