Russia put a ban on most of the imports of fruits and vegetables from Poland saying that it could extend the ban to the entire European Union. Warsaw commented that Kremlin retaliated in response to the newest Western sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis. Russia imports fruits and vegetables worth 2 billion euros annually, which makes it the biggest export market for the produce. Kremlin cites sanitary reasons being behind the ban and denied any link to the sanctions. Moscow has been frequently blamed for hiding behind the veil of “safety inspections and sanitary issues” when forbidding trade with the countries with which it has political disputes. Poland’s agriculture ministry said that the current embargo amounted to political repression in response to the sanctions as the ban came only a day after the EU and the U.S. imposed the toughest sanctions since the end of the Cold War.
The US put sanctions on key sectors of the Russian economy – energy, arms, and finance. The country blocked its exports of specific technologies and goods and expanded sanctions to more banks and financial institutions. Washington also banned credit that encourages exports to Russia just like financing development projects in the country. The EU has allegedly about 10 times more trade with Russia than the U.S. and it is therefore expected that European sanctions should harm Russia more. Brussels targeted state-owned banks by denying them access to European capital markets, restricted sales of sensitive technology, and imposed an arms embargo. Yet, Moscow still denies accusations that it supports and arms rebels in the Ukrainian conflict over Crimea. If Russia extends its ban on fruit and vegetable imports, it could easily jeopardize 28 percent of the EU’s fruit and 21.5 percent of vegetable exports. In case of Poland only, the shares are much higher. The country is the world’s largest exporter of apples with exports worth 438 million euros last year.