RIGA, August 18 /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union’s sanctions against Russia over the situation in Ukraine were a necessary step, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday after talks with Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.
“We also discussed the situation in Ukraine,” Merkel, who is on a visit to Latvia, told journalists. “We need to do everything possible to find a political solution. For example, I believe that sanctions against Russia are necessary to show that we are serious.”
“I know that sanctions also touched upon Latvia and Germany, but by doing nothing we may only aggravate the situation. So we believe that step was necessary,” she said. The German leader called Russia’s incorporation of Crimea “annexation” and said it needed a response on the part of the international community.
Russian officials and companies have come under sanctions, including visa bans, asset freezes and other punitive measures, on the part of Western nations following reunification of Crimea with Russia in mid-March.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
In response to new Western sectoral sanctions against Russia announced in late July, Moscow imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
The banned products list includes cattle meat (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), pork (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), poultry meat and all poultry edible by-products, salted meat, pickled meat, dried meat, smoked meat, fish, clams and other water invertebrates, milk and dairy products, vegetables, edible roots and tuber crops.
The list also contains fruits and nuts, sausage and analogous meat products, meat by-products or blood, as well as products made of them, ready-to-eat products including cheeses and cottage-cheese based on vegetable fats.
The Latvian prime minister, on her part, recalled that her country’s dairy industry will suffer the most as a result of Russian countermeasures.
“The Latvian government has already discussed measures to support this industry and other industries, and transit, as transit goes via Latvia and this sphere affects the country’s economy,” Straujuma said. “We have a reserve fund of 40 million euros in agriculture, which may be used to help peasants.”
She said the EU sanctions against Russia were inevitable as “it was necessary to show the EU’s attitude toward developments in Ukraine.”
Straujuma also said Merkel pledged Germany’s support regarding sales of Latvian products to third countries. “The EU will necessarily cope with these sanctions,” she said.
The US-led West has threatened Russia with further penalties, including economic ones, for incorporation of Crimea and what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast.
Russia has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in protests in the southeast of Ukraine, which started after Crimea refused to recognize the authorities propelled to power during a coup in Ukraine in February and reunified with Russia in mid-March after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.
Moscow has said the language of sanctions is counterproductive and will strike back at Western countries.