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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8916
JPY
USD
121.32
GBP
USD
0.6487
CAD
USD
1.3252
INR
USD
66.401

Rates may not be current.