Moscow (AFP) – Russia fired its latest salvo in an escalating trade war with the West and Kiev on Wednesday by banning all Ukrainian alcohol imports over alleged violations of safety rules.
The Rospotrebnadzor consumer protection agency said that various brands of Ukrainian beer, wine and spirits “failed to meet requirements identified on their labels”.
It said samples of Obolon beer showed an improper calorie count while spirits sold by the Ukrainian Distribution Company had misrepresented their alcohol content.
Rospotrebnadzor said the ban would come into force on Friday.
The decision comes just days after Russia banned most produce and meat imports from the United States and EU nations that had imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Moscow over the Kremlin’s perceived backing of insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has already banned all Ukrainian dairy and also other popular products such as chocolate over alleged violations of consumer safety regulations.
Moscow has a long history of suddenly discovering problems with food products from nations with which it is experiencing diplomatic strains.
Russia banned Georgian wine sales shortly before the sides fought a brief 2008 war that saw two Moscow-backed regions proclaim independence from Tbilisi.
The Kremlin also imposed restrictions against Moldovan wine and Belarussian dairy products when the two ex-Soviet countries began fighting various Kremlin policies.
Both Georgia and Moldova this year signed historic EU free trade agreements that loosen their dependence on Russia.
Federal Customs Service data show Russia having imported $90.3 million (67.5 million euros) in Ukrainian alcohol in 2013.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]