Russia represents over 25% of Ukraine’s exports and is the divided nation’s largest trade partner. As Ukraine remains deep in its self-described “pre-default” state, the economy languishes vainly in the hopes of a trade deal with ‘someone’ and a bailout from ‘someone’ else. However, the IMF’s first move to bail the nation out has now been met by a subtle punch to the country’s kidneys as Interfax reports that Russia threatens to limit food imports on the basis of “veterinary and phytosanitary risks.”
Russia and the Customs Union could temporarily limit increased-risk food imports from Ukraine, given fears of loose safety control, said Sergei Dankvert, head of the Russian veterinary and phytosanitary oversight service Rosselkhoznadzor.
“My Belarusian colleague and I are extremely concerned about the situation in Ukraine. We do not rule out that curbs could be introduced on the imports of products of high veterinary and phytosanitary risks from Ukraine,” Dankvert told Interfax after talks with his Belarusian counterpart Yury Pivovarchik in Bryansk, and telephone talks with Ukraine’s Deputy Agrarian Policy Minister Ivan Bisyuk.
Restrictions could also be imposed on transit shipments, he said.
The conditions in which Ukrainian experts are working arouse queries and doubts that their work is being done properly, especially amid reports of African swine fever infections, he said.
Cooperation between veterinary and phytosanitary experts is largely based on trust, Dankvert said. If the conditions in which the Ukrainian service is working do not improve, moreover, if its leadership is replaced, the business contacts, built over the past few years, may be affected,” he said. “They were not always cloudless, but our Ukrainian colleagues were trying to work for expanding trade between our counties,” he said.
It might seem like an odd reason to suddenly do this but of course the timing is perfect – especally as the anti-Russian provinces tend to be the most agricultural and farming based – as opposed to the eastern (more industrial) regions that are wealthier and more pro-Russia.
But as a reminder, a great deal of the nation’s wealth resides in non-pro-Europe eastern Ukraine…