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Staunch critic of Russia resumes grain purchases

Lithuania suspended regular imports from the country in May 2023

Lithuania has resumed purchasing grain from Russia after a lengthy hiatus, importing more than 12,000 metric tons in February, worth around $2 million, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday, citing statistical data.

The former Soviet nation, one of Russia’s most vocal critics, had stopped regular grain imports from its neighbor in May 2023, receiving its last delivery in July.

Nevertheless, in March 2024, Lithuania, along with Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, urged the European Commission to impose a full ban on grain imports from Russia and Belarus due to the Ukraine conflict.

Statistics show that Latvia has also increased imports of Russian grain, purchasing 58,800 tons in February compared to 52,600 tons the previous month.

Riga has been one of the most outspoken advocates of imposing EU-wide sanctions on Russian grain. This, however, has not stopped Latvia from increasing its agricultural imports from Russia by almost 40% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024.

In February, Latvia imposed a unilateral ban on food imports from Russia and Belarus, becoming the first EU state to introduce such an embargo, while Lithuania announced that it would subject cargo to strict inspection.

Despite this, the EU countries in February collectively purchased 92,600 tons of Russian grain, worth almost €17 million.

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FILE PHOTO: Agricultural workers operate combines in the fields of Rostselmash company during wheat harvesting outside the village of Bolshaya Neklinovka, in the Rostov region, Russia.
EU preparing tariffs on Russian grain – FT

Media outlets reported last month that the European Union was preparing to impose tariffs of up to 50% on grain imports from Russia and Belarus, under pressure from protesting farmers and several member states.

Brussels has long resisted pressure from Poland and the Baltic states to restrict agricultural imports from Russia and Belarus, arguing that such a move could disrupt global food markets and hurt developing nations.

Russia is one of the world’s largest exporters of grain, feed and fertilizer. While these commodities have not been outright sanctioned by the US and its allies on account of the Ukraine conflict, their transport by sea has been made more difficult by sanctions on commercial shipping.

April 17, 2024 at 11:42PM

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