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Reciprocal steps may ease tension in West-Russia trade war - experts

August 15, 2014, 17:36 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Artom Geodakyan

MOSCOW, August 15./ITAR-TASS/. Russia may make problems less acute for Europe facing a retaliatory food embargo Russia imposed on the EU states on August 7, if the European Union revises its policy over anti-Russian sanctions, former Russia’s economy minister, current chief for science at the Higher School of Economics University, Yevgeny Yasin, said.

On Thursday several European politicians said they intended to inform the EU leadership about their discontent with Brussels’ anti-Russian sanctions. Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said that Helsinki would not impose retaliatory sanctions on Russia after the latter introduced food embargo on the EU.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto met in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Friday, discussing ways of improving bilateral economic ties worsened amid the current Ukrainian crisis.

Czech President Milos Zeman criticized anti-Russian sanctions, believing compensations to agrarian producers should be allocated from the EU reserve funds. Cypriot authorities called for an urgent meeting of EU foreign ministers over Russia’s food embargo. Leader of Italian party Northern League, Matteo Salvini, blamed the EU for a short-sighted position over sanctions against Russia and urged to cancel them immediately. European farmers said that they would go bankrupt, if governments of their countries did not settle the conflict with Russia.

“The correct approach would be to meet halfway those countries which condemn Western anti-Russian sanctions,” Yevgeny Yasin told ITAR-TASS, meaning to facilitate food embargo for Finland as a major cheese supplier to Russia.

“I prefer Russian low-fat cheeses. But many people got accustomed to [Finnish] cheese Viola, other products of company Viola and this would be needed to satisfy their right to buy favourite foods.”

Director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Mikhail Delyagin, quoted Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying that Moscow would change a list of agrarian products on which Russia imposed embargo; food products for people sick with diabetes and allergy, as well as those biologically active food supplements which Russia did not produce, would be dropped from this list.

“Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry said fish juveniles may be crossed out from the list of products banned from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway, because they are needed to reproduce aquaculture in Russia,” he told ITAR-TASS.

“On the one hand, the import ban may be lifted from product which are needed on Russian market, so for purely market climate reasons. On the other hand, this is big politics, where it is common practice not to escalate the problem, but to solve it reasonably and in a sound way,” the expert said.

The expert noted that Russia stated about a large number of products put on the embargo list in retaliation to Western sanctions over the current Ukrainian crisis.

“But President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev put it clearly that this is not an unbreakable barrier and Moscow is ready to discuss and to soften its position on a mutual basis with the European Union. Moscow has put it clearly to Brussels that it awaits reciprocal steps from the union,” he said.

President of expert consulting company Neocon, Mikhail Khazin, told ITAR-TASS that reciprocal steps, which are in sight already, might alleviate tension in ‘the trade war’ between Western countries and Russia.

However, he believes that the United States will continue putting spokes in the wheels of Russia-EU relations as much as possible, for Washington seeks to swallow up the European market.

“Neither Russia nor the EU will make sanctions milder, until Brussels and Germany as the EU’s economic driving force take the danger of American ambitions in earnest”, he added.

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