Latvia needs to prepare for the possible lifting of EU sanctions against Russia, and Moscow’s reciprocal step of canceling food embargo, Riga’s mayor Nils Usakovs said on Tuesday.
“Now there is a very small hope that this year the EU can decide in favor of partially canceling [anti-Russia] sanctions. And then there is the same small hope that Russia’s own sanctions, for example on the dairy products, will be canceled. And we should prepare for this now because when the sanctions are lifted, everyone will fight for the return to the Russian market — Lithuanians, Estonians and Poles, and we must be there first. And my job as a politician is to help our entrepreneurs in this as much as possible,” Usakovs said on his Facebook page.
He made this statement shortly following the meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as the two politicians visited the dairy enterprise Rigas Piena Kombinats. Usakovs stressed that the enterprise had lost 6 million euros ($6.7 million) last year due to the Russian food embargo.
In 2014, the West, in particular the United States and the European Union, imposed several rounds of sanctions against the country, citing Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian internal conflict. The imported products are currently replaced both with Russian production and goods from countries, which have not introduced sanctions against Russia. Moscow responded to the Western sanctions by imposing an embargo on foods produced in the states that sanctioned Russia.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Economic Development Ministry said that the United States, the European Union and a number of other Western countries lost an average of $8.6 billion every year due to Russia’s food embargo.