World

Who Will Be Affected By Russia's Food Import Ban?

Vladimir Putin has banned food imports from the U.S., the E.U. and their allies in retaliation for sanctions. Will his move backfire?

Who Will Be Affected By Russia's Food Import Ban?
Denis Jarvis / CC BY SA 2.0

Russian citizens might see their dietary options dwindle somewhat after President Vladimir Putin puts a stop to food imports from certain countries.

Putin has banned a wide range of food products — including beef, dairy products, fruits and vegetables — from the U.S., the E.U., Canada, Australia and Norway for a year.

The move is retaliation for sanctions imposed on Russia for its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. The most recent sanctions came after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which the U.S. blamed on Russian-backed separatists. (Video via Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, The Guardian)

U.S. officials were quick to respond, with a White House spokesperson quoted in The Hill as saying, "Retaliating against Western companies or countries will deepen Russia's international isolation, causing further damage to its own economy." And some analysts were quick to agree.

CNBC: "He believes in matching force with force: He always retaliates. But in the end, he is only making life more difficult for the people of Russia."

And that's because, according to multiple outlets, Russia imports as much as 40 percent of its food from abroad.

The Wall Street Journal broke that down further, reporting the countries Russia's ban affects provide "54 percent of Russian meat imports, 52 percent of fish, [and] around 30 percent of fruit and vegetables." All of which, the Journal says, could push already-high Russian inflation even higher.    

Still, despite insistence in Western outlets that the Russian people will ultimately be the ones suffering, it's not immediately clear the extent to which the Russian people themselves are bothered by the ban. 

In fact, ​a writer for the Financial Times tweeted Thursday, "Based on very informal polling outside [a nice grocery store]: fewer people are upset about import ban than you'd think (rich included)."

And that doesn't mean the ban won't also hurt the affected countries, as Putin intends.

The Financial Times reports E.U. exporters could be particularly hard-hit because Russia is such a large importer and "it is the EU's largest agricultural goods export market."

And RT reports the E.U. could go to the World Trade Organization with its grievances because, "The EU considers the move by Russia to be 'politically motivated.'"

The worst-case scenario for Putin if his ban backfires? 

MSNBC: "It brings with it a whole set of consequences which is economic turmoil in Russia, which has traditionally resulted in regime change."

It's important to note Russia hasn't banned all imports from those countries: just beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, vegetables and fruit. 

​​This video includes images from Getty Images and Denis Jarvis / CC BY SA 2.0.