News / Economy

Russia Bans Polish Fruit, Veggies in Apparent Retaliation for Sanctions

FILE - People walk past goods at the market in Suwalki, Poland, March 2009.
FILE - People walk past goods at the market in Suwalki, Poland, March 2009.
Reuters

Russia announced a ban on most fruit and vegetable imports from Poland on Wednesday and said it may extend the restrictions to the rest of the European Union, its first apparent retaliation to new Western sanctions imposed over Ukraine a day earlier.

Moscow, which buys more than 2 billion euros worth of EU fruit and vegetables a year making it by far the biggest export market for the products, said the ban was for sanitary reasons.

Polish fruit growers said the ban was political, although Russia denied this. Moscow has frequently been accused in the past of using sanitary inspections to restrict trade from countries with which it has political disputes. The EU said it was studying the announcement, describing it as a surprise.

The ban came a day after the European Union and United States imposed their first sanctions aimed at hitting broad sectors of the Russian economy, restricting sales of equipment for the oil and defense industries and limiting access by state-controlled banks to Western capital markets.

Moscow denies Western accusations that it has armed and supported rebels who are fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. Russian officials have condemned Tuesday's sanctions.

Pressure for sanctions in the West increased dramatically after July 17, when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over rebel held territory with what Washington and Brussels believe was a surface-to-air missile acquired from Russia.

According to European Commission figures, the EU sold Russia 1.2 billion euros worth of fruit and 886 million euros worth of vegetables in 2011, accounting for 28 percent of the bloc's exports of fruit and 21.5 percent of its vegetables. For some EU countries, including Poland, the percentages are even higher.

By first targeting Poland, which was part of the Soviet bloc until just over two decades ago, Moscow is striking at one of the EU's most strident supporters of increased sanctions against Russia for its backing of rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Russia's Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) will restrict most fruit and vegetable imports from Poland starting from Aug. 1, due to “the violation of certification and the identification of quarantine products,”  spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said.

He said the move was part of a VPSS plan to consider restricting all or some fruit imports from the entire EU, announced with little fanfare on Monday while European countries were debating the latest sanctions. The VPSS said at the time it would decide the fate of overall EU imports in a week or two.

“Our restrictions are not linked with EU sanctions, because this situation [with Polish imports] has been developing for a long time,” Alekseenko said. “We impose these limits not to try to get something from the Polish side, but to have our rights observed as a WTO [World Trade Organization] member.”

Tomasz Solis, deputy head of the Polish Fruitgrowers Association, told Reuters the decision was “politically motivated.”

“The political situation in Ukraine would sooner or later have affected our relations with Russia,” he said. “Russia is one of our prime target markets, with 60 or perhaps even 70 percent of our exports going there.”

A spokesman for the EU's executive European Commission said it was studying the new restrictions.

“Let me be very clear that they came unannounced by the Russian authorities - they were not announced beforehand - so what the commission will do now is to analyze the measures and the grounds they have been taken, and we will take action in due course,” the Commission spokesman said in Brussels. 

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9115
JPY
USD
123.92
GBP
USD
0.6554
CAD
USD
1.2443
INR
USD
63.800

Rates may not be current.