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As Russia Issues Economic Sanctions Against Turkey, Ukraine Sees Grain Export Opportunity Featured

28 November 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a range of economic sanctions against Turkey on Saturday citing reasons of national security, according to the Kremlin's announcement. A list of items is to be developed and released on Monday outlining the types of products that are to be banned or limited under the decree. The list of goods is expected to include agricultural products, which would include Turkey's main share of exports to Russia, according to a Reuters report.

In the meantime, Ukraine's Agriculture Minister Aleksey Pavlenko announced the country's readiness to provide food products to Turkey as Russia draws up plans to restrict trade.

“If traditional partners of Turkey are the ones applying the sanctions, and is no longer going to supply grain, Ukraine is ready to at least double grain, corn and oil supplies,” Pavlenko wrote on his Facebook page, as reported by “Turkey is a long-time and reliable partner of Ukraine, we are ready to act as guarantors of food security of this country. In this way, Ukraine will be able to replace Russia on the Turkish market”.

Prior to the announcement of the official decree, the head of Russia's Ministry of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev, previously discussed the issue and said that if there were restrictions placed against Turkish food products, the Russian market would be able to replace those items with suppliers of Iran, Morocco, Israel, Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan.

Turkey supplies about 25 percent of Russia's fruit imports, according to official information, as relayed by Tkachev, However, according to the official, these shipments could be replaced by South Africa, Morocco, China, Argentina, Israel, Abkhazia and Georgia.

Also, prior to any official announcement to ban shipments from Turkey, Russia's customs service had informally started carrying out stricter controls over Turkish imports.

Turkey's Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Faruk Celik at the time had confirmed that the ministry had not received an official decision from Russia announcing bans against Turkish exports, including fruits and vegetables, according to to an article published in the Daily Sabah.

According to Interfax, relaying information released by Smolensk customs, where Turkish goods arrive through Bulgaria, the Smolensk customs agency received a memo to deny Turkish goods admission in reference to columns 2, 11, 15, 16 and 34 of the declaration of goods. “Turkey post will be denied admission, and that if a Turkish carrier is transporting the cargo then the sanctions will be the same”.

Retailers as of Thursday did not confirm that restrictions on purchases of Turkish products have gone into effect. Russian media previously attributed the association of retailers' message as a source, in which the leadership had denied that there has been any related requirements or regulations directed at retailers.

Ksenia Burdanova, press secretary of AKORT, said: “this information does not correspond with actions”. It could be the initiative of separate individual companies, but the association itself did not receive any directive, and it does not have the authority to do so without official documents.

At this time, the leaders of the individual subjects of the Russian Federation have already made announcements with varying claims about future trade relations with Turkey. The Kaliningrad Oblast and Sevastopal had officially announced restrictions and even mentioned breaking off trade relations with Turkey. Sevastopol is a city of federal significance that intends to replace what fruits it can with produce from Abkhazia.

Turkish growers are concerned about the possible restrictions exports to the Russian market. Mustafa Satichi, head of the Association for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters of Turkey, said that Russia is the second most important export market for the country, the first being Germany. It's difficult to imagine the consequences of such a decision as a result of recent turn of events.

In the absence of an official decision on the matter, a correspondent from TASS confirmed that within the Russian government, sanctions are currently not under discussion.

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