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Russia's counter-sanctions: What you need to know

Earlier, Russia extended retaliatory measures against Western countries until the end of 2018

On June 30, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree "On the renewal of certain special economic measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation."

In 2014-2015, Russia imposed restrictions in response to foreign sanctions against it due to the situation in Ukraine. They stipulate a ban for importing some types of agricultural products from the US, EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine, Albania, Liechtenstein, Montenegro and Iceland. The order of June 30, 2017, renewed these special economic measures until December 31, 2018.

Context: sanctions lists

Starting from March 2014, due to the situation in Ukraine, a number of countries and international organizations, including the US, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, New Zealand, Iceland and other countries imposed sanctions against Russia. In particular, lists of sanctioned Russian individuals and legal entities appeared. The restriction measures stipulated a travel ban and an account freeze. In addition, the so-called sectoral sanctions were introduced: the assets of the sanctioned companies were not frozen, but restrictions on mid-and long-term crediting were imposed instead.

In the summer of 2014, Russia responded with similar lists of persons whose visits to Russia were considered undesirable. On May 31, 2015, some foreign mass media reported that the Russian side had passed on to the Moscow mission of the European Union a list of official persons banned from entering the country. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not promulgate the list. According to some sources, it included 89 European politicians.

Special economic measures

On August 6, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree "On the application of certain special economic measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation." The next day, on the basis of the presidential order, the Russian government banned the imports from the US, the European Union, Norway, Australia and Canada of cattle meat, pork, poultry meat and by-products, salty, dried and smoked meat, shellfish, molluscs and other water invertebrates, milk and milk products, vegetables, edible root crops and tuber crops, fruits and nuts, sausages, and milk-containing products based on vegetable fats.

The list was updated on August 20, 2014, and June 22, 2015: specialized lactose-free milk products, salmon and trout fry, as well as young oysters and mussels were removed from it. This was done because it appeared impossible to substitute these imports on a full scale.

According to the official web site of the Federal Customs Service, in 2013 Russia imported around $8.35 bln worth of these products from the above-mentioned countries, which is around 2.5% of the total imports ($317.8 bln).

Extending the list of countries

On August 13, 2015, the Russian government extended the list of countries that were banned from importing to Russia agricultural products, raw materials and food supplies by adding Albania, Montenegro, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Ukraine (sanctions against it came into effect on January 1, 2016) on the list. These countries had previously joined the European sanctions against Russia. In 2014, they supplied $656.2 mln worth of sanctioned products (5.9% of their total exports to Russia).

Russia did not impose any retaliatory economic measures against Switzerland and Japan, that had joined the anti-Russian sanction regime back in 2014.

Subsequent events

The list of sanctioned products has been updated six times since August 2015. Food supplements were removed from this list on September 16, 2015, and some fry and young oysters and mussels, on March 1 and October 22, 2016. On May 27, 2016, poultry meat, beef and vegetables for infant food production were allowed to be imported to Russia. On September 10, 2016, salt was added to the list, but the amendment of May 20, 2017, specified that the ban did not include salt for dietary supplements and medical products.

On June 29, 2016, President Vladimir Putin signed an order to renew special economic measures until the end of 2017. On July 1, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a corresponding resolution.