It seems like Russia is serious as it takes on Turkey after the fighter jet incident. It has increased its checks on food and agriculture imports from Turkey. The action was taken as its first public move to hinder trade with the nation after the downing of a Russian fighter jet. The government took some stringent actions and told the food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor to increase the levels of controls implied. Alexander Tkachev, Agriculture Minister of Russia announced on Thursday that as per their reports, approximately 15 percent of Turkish food imports did not meet the Russian food safety standards. The authorities have cited extremely high levels of pesticides and other harmful substances.
This does not mean that they have banned all imports from Turkey. It only means that from now on, all the imported products will undergo strict scrutiny, unlike previously, when only a few samples of deliveries were checked. Thus, the more checks, the greater delay in imports. Though the government is treating this move as a way of waging combat, analysts believe that this will generate more chaos in Moscow than in Ankara.
Russia Will Suffer More
Russia has been suffering through an economic crisis, and the current status of the economy is extremely fragile. This step will further deteriorate the status of the Russian Economy. Otilia Dhand, Senior Vice President at Teneo Intelligence explained while commenting on the action that the Russian government is not considering the current state of affairs. They need to remember that food import bans will only add to the inflation of food prices. The state of Russia’s currency already is worrisome. This will extensively affect Russia’s economic situation, and the sector that will suffer the worst will be the consumers.
Rosselkhoznadzor regulations are often used by Moscow to handle diplomatic spats. They help in imposing bans on imports of certain products that are generally backed by health reasons. Though when discussed with officials, they disagreed and said that the agency’s actions are not politically driven. A similar reaction was seen when Russia banned almost all food imports from Western countries in 2014. The implementation was followed after the West’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
Matter of Turkey ’s Pride
Russia’s fury ignited after President Tayyip Erdogan refused to apologize for downing of the jet. He said that he is serious about his nation’s security and will defend it at any cost. He refused to change the Turkish policy, saying that he is aiming to defend the rights of their brothers in Syria.
Turkey is a major exporter of food to Russia. It accounts for 4% of Russia’s total food imports. The imports mainly constitute fruits, nuts, and vegetables. According to Russia’s customs report, agricultural and food product imports from Turkey were worth $1 billion in the first 10 months of 2015. The critical issue is 20% of Russia’s vegetables come from Turkey.
When asked how they will deal with the crisis, Russia’s Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said that the shortfall will be managed by imports from Iran, Morocco, Israel, and Azerbaijan, and citrus imports can be managed from South Africa, Morocco, China, and other countries.
The matter has turned into a major crisis that now involves the pride of the two nations. The heads of both the countries, Putin and Erdogan, refuse to back down, and hence, the issue might not resolve soon.