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Russia bans EU animal fats

October 20, 2014

Moscow has restricted the import of animal fats from the EU after a number of products failed to meet hygiene standards. Russia has already banned most food imports from the 28-member bloc over the Ukraine crisis.

Symbolbild Einfuhrverbot Russland
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

On Monday, Russia's agricultural watchdog announced new sanctions against EU foods. Citing breaches in hygiene codes, it said Russia would halt imports of animal fats and byproducts as of October 21.

"Temporary restrictions are being brought in on…offal from cattle and pigs, finely and coarsely ground flour made from meat and meat offal, beef fat, pork fat including lard and chicken fat," the spokesman for Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service, Alexei Alekseyenko, said.

This year, both Washington and Brussels have issued sanctions against Moscow and people linked to the Ukrainian crisis. Russia retaliated in August by imposing its own bans against Western countries - including the EU, US, Canada, Norway and Australia - targeting the meat, fish, dairy and produce industries.

Russia's embargos have begun affecting the EU's agricultural sector. Fearing the affect of a food surplus would have on market prices, the European Union has worked to bolster the affected industries with financial support and by offering to provide surplus storage.

Gas talks slated for Brussels

While Brussels has deliberated over measures to alleviate the fall out of the Ukrainian crisis on its farmers, its greater fear continues to be the consequences of an unresolved natural gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia has blocked gas supplies to Ukraine since the summer over unpaid bills. In a major breakthrough over the weekend, the Russian and Ukrainian presidents reached a tentative agreement that would allow Kyiv to pay $385 (300 euros) per 1,000 cubic meters, $100 less than Russia had previously demanded.

Despite the step forward, the EU continues to monitor the situation closely. Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger met with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv on Monday and is scheduled to mediate a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday between Ukraine's Yuri Prodan and Russia's Alexander Novak on Tuesday.

Germany, Slovakia weigh in

With winter fast approaching, EU leaders have redoubled their criticism against Moscow over the natural gas crisis. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico turned their attention to the leadership in Kyiv on Monday, warning that it, too, must cooperate.

The EU can't be expected to take on Ukraine's gas debt - estimated at $4.5 billion - the Slovakian premier said.

"We have taken on our part of the responsibility by ensuring the so--called Reverse-Flow of gas into Ukraine. But this is not going to work with Ukraine expecting everybody [except itself to help find a solution] for the Ukrainian problem," Rico said.

Merkel said that Berlin agreed that "each party must make its own contribution."

"We have taken on a good stretch of the way, but we haven't reached our destination," she said.

kms/glb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)