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Russia's Food Import Ban Is Here to Stay

Russia's deputy prime minister has confirmed what Russia Insider said a week ago: the food import ban will not be lifted. This is because it is not really a sanction. It is a tool to help Russian farming.

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider


On 21st April 2015 Russia Insider published my piece ("Putin Talks Agriculture, Confirms EU Food Import Ban Is Here to Stay") in which I said there was no chance Russia would lift its ban on EU food imports anytime soon.

That piece was based on things Putin said during his recent Direct Line television marathon.  

In discussions with farmers Putin made it clear that Russia is giving development of agriculture top priority and is using the food import ban as a tool to help domestic food producers.

Russian Deputy Prime Arkady Dvorkovitch has now confirmed it. Moscow Times reports he said, "We are not currently considering cancelling the ban.”

In fact the Moscow Times piece ("Russia Likely to Extend Ban on Western Food Imports", Moscow Times, 30th April 2015) confirms Russia plans to extend the ban beyond 7th August 2015, when it is due to expire.

Talk that has been circulating in recent days that Russia might be prepared to soften the ban should therefore be seen for what it is -- just talk, intended to strengthen Russia’s position in future negotiations.

The Western media reports the food import ban as a “counter sanction” imposed by Russia in response to the sanctions the EU imposed on Russia last July.

This is true only to a very limited degree. The food import ban is better understood as a carefully considered step the Russians took to strengthen their agriculture, which is a key sector of their economy.  Western sanctions simply gave them the excuse to do it.

Russia Insider predicted that the food import ban would not be lifted. Once again we have been proven right.


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