Russia likely to extend EU food import ban

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Putin claims the EU's sanctions are "useless and meaningless"
Putin claims the EU's sanctions are "useless and meaningless"

Related tags: Vladimir putin, Russia

Russia is likely to extend its ban on EU food imports beyond the August 7 deadline, as the European Union looks set to continue its sanctions against Russian products.

In August 2014 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced a complete ban on the import of beef, pork, fruit, poultry, cheeses and milk from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway, in response to sanctions against Russia, which have been used as leverage in the conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian sanctions were put in place for an initial one-year period, but with the August 7 deadline approaching, Russia looks unlikely to lift the ban while European sanctions remain.

"We are not currently considering cancelling the ban,"​ Reuters quoted Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying on Wednesday.

Last Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said continuation of the EU’s sanctions against Russia was tied to the Minsk peace accord, in which a ceasefire in Ukraine was agreed from February 15. The EU says violations of the deal have continued since, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the involvement of Russian troops.

In his annual televised call-in earlier this month, Putin said it was “useless and meaningless to put pressure on Russia” by using sanctions, but added that the situation had spurred Russia to boost its agricultural production and cut its reliance on imports.

"We must use the current situation to reach new levels of development,"​ he said.

Meanwhile, the sanctions have exacerbated Russian food inflation – in conjunction with a 40% fall in the value of the ruble against the dollar in the past year – and it is expected to reach 21.6% year-on-year in 2015, according to a report from VTB Capital.

The report also claims the average Russian household is set to spend more than half its budget on food by autumn.

Russia is Europe's second-largest market for food and drink exports and has been an important consumer of Polish pig meat and Dutch fruit and vegetables in particular. Exports of food and raw materials to Russia were worth €12.2bn in 2013, following several years of double-digit growth.

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