Russia bans Spanish food imports over Ukraine sanctions

Vladimir Putin’s Russian government has banned imports of all meat, fish, milk, milk products, fruit and vegetables for one year from the European Union, Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA.

Spain has an estimated half a million Russians living and working here. Russian tourism contributes approximately €2.35 billion towards Spain’s economy. Spanish trade has recently been enjoying a boom with Russia with bilateral trade estimated to be worth €11 billion last year.

The main agricultural and food products exported to Russia from Spain that will be affected by the ban include frozen meat and by-products, fruit, raw and semi-prepared foods, citrus fruit, olives and olive oil.

Russia is heavily dependent on imported foodstuffs. Russian officials have contacted Turkey as a likely source for additional quantities of fruit and vegetables to compensate for the ban on Western food products.

The sanctions are seen as being retaliatory after the recent imposition of sanctions on Russia, following their role in the increasingly fraught situation in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace, allegedly by separatist Russian rebels.

There are fears that Russia is also considering banning Western airlines from flying over Russia on flights to and from Asia, a move that could significantly increase both costs and flight time for airlines and passengers.

An EU spokesman in Brussels said: “The European Union regrets the announcement by the Russian Federation of measures which will target imports of food and agricultural products. This announcement is clearly politically motivated… We underline that the European Union’s restrictive measures are directly linked with the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Ukraine. The European Union remains committed to de-escalating the situation in Ukraine.”

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