The Russian government is currently considering to loosen its embargo imposed upon European Union (EU) agricultural products from several member-states, among which is Greece, by allowing products to be processed within the country, President Vladimir Putin‘s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier today. In an interview to newspaper “Izvestia,” Peskov highlighted that under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Moscow is not entitled to completely exempt an EU member-state from sanctions against the bloc.
“There are quite straightforward rules at the World Trade Organization, and Russia, as a WTO member, cannot choose. We cannot impose sanctions against EU member-states and selectively lift sanctions on one of the countries,” the Kremlin representative said. However, as he added, the direct deliveries of agricultural products can be substituted by “imports of raw materials with an investment in Russian-based food processing facilities.”
It should be noted that earlier on February, the Russian President has declared that Moscow would be able to cooperate with Hungarian agriculture despite Western sanctions and Russian counter sanctions.
Peskov’s comments came after the Greek government asked Russia to lift sanctions on supplies of “key agricultural production” such as peaches, strawberries and oranges that are being left to rot due to a lack of market. Greece and Hungary have firmly opposed sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian Crisis from the beginning, saying they primarily hurt those who impose, meaning the EU member-states themselves. Most recently, the newly elected leftist Greek government vetoed a new round of anti-Russian sanctions.
In a Brussels meeting held on January 29 that decided the sanctions’ six-month extension, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias underlined that Greece insisted on removing a phrase from the draft proposal, which would have imposed new sanctions on Russia. Greece also insisted that the final communique does not put direct blame on Russia for the Ukrainian conflict. The decided extension suggested that Greece’s new government might be openly skeptical on Russian sanctions, although it would not break EU unity on the matter. Furthermore, Kotzias highlighted that he was happy to sign the EU decision, since the bloc was not immediately moving toward new economic sanctions.