RUSSIA — Russia may soon stop exporting agricultural produce to Europe and North America in retaliation to the strings of economic sanctions that countries in these regions have imposed on it.
In a social media post, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that the world’s largest wheat exporter could limit supplies of agricultural products to countries that are “friendly” toward Russia.
Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, made the comments as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fifth week.
The announcement comes at a time when economic sanctions imposed by Western countries over the Ukraine crisis continue to significantly damage Russia’s economy.
“We will only be supplying food and agriculture products to our friends,” Medvedev, a close ally of President Putin said on social media.
“Fortunately, we have plenty of them, and they are not in Europe or North America at all.”
The news is already creating food security issues in Europe which mainly relies on Russia and Ukraine for its grain exports.
EU countries exported US$4.7 billion worth of grain exports from Russia in 2021, according to a report by Moscow Times.
If this window is closed, Europe may be forced to look for other markets in Latin America and North America to cater to the shortfall.
Russia, on the other hand, may have to find alternative markets for its grains, but that is not a major concern as demand is still there given Ukraine’s limited ability to export its produce.
Additionally, a large portion of Russia’s grain exports are shipped to the Middle East and Africa and these regions seem to be neutral in the current war pitting Russia against Ukraine.
Recently, China, which has not been critical of Russia’s invasion of its sovereign neighbor, agreed to increase wheat imports from Russia.
India has also upped its import of Russian sunflower oil by 45,000 tonnes to cater for shortfall in its home market created by delayed shipment of the product from Ukranian ports.
Medvedev noted that agricultural exports to “friendly” countries would be paid for in a combination of rubles and the currency of the importing country.
Putin recently threatened to stop exporting oil to “unfriendly” countries unless they paid in rubles.
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