Russia claims EU deception over bluetongue

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

EU hiding bluetongue virus, says Russia
EU hiding bluetongue virus, says Russia

Related tags European union World trade organization Russia Beef Lamb Livestock

The EU has been hiding outbreaks of a dangerous strain of the bluetongue virus, grossly violating veterinary rules and World Trade Organization (WTO) responsibilities, Russian veterinary authorities have claimed.

Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) said it has evidence that serotype-14 of the bluetongue virus is circulating in Europe despite never having been officially reported. The strain is considered particularly dangerous, because there is no vaccine against it.

“The EU has confirmed the presence in Europe of the 14th bluetongue serotype and, as it turned out during a telephone conversation, it is clear that there are specific EU officials who are responsible for hiding this fact. They prevented veterinary services [of the EU] from reporting this information. The confirmation came only after the publication of this fact by Russia,”​ claimed the head of Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert.

Rosselkhoznadzor said it was confident that the new strain of the virus was now actively circulating in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. According to Dankvert, European colleagues did not notify Russia about the spread of the virus and concealed this information by signing veterinary certificates and guaranteeing the safety of products supplied to Russia. He added that, based on evidence of these cases, Russia can now refuse European suppliers the the right to ship livestock to Russia.

“Unfortunately, this situation has seriously shattered what was already low confidence in the work of the European Veterinary Service, under the guarantee of which the list of suppliers of animal products to Russia was made,”​ he said.

Dankvert stated that Rosselkhoznadzor will seek approval from the European Commission for the mass-testing of European suppliers by Russian veterinarians. Additionally, from 10 December, Russia will ban the import of livestock products from 11 German companies as a result of a violation of veterinary legislation not connected with bluetongue.

A source in Rosselkhoznadzor told​ that the current situation could lead to new restrictions on EU livestock and meat imports, with the possibility of a complete ban.

“The EU has put in jeopardy consumers not only in Russia, but also in many countries of the world. So, from now, the guarantee of the European Veterinary Services on the safety of its products will not be taken into account by Russia. The identified violations... will certainly hamper the potential abolition of existing restrictions on the import of animal products to Russia and the countries of the Customs Union,”​ he said.

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