Lithuanian dairy imports blocked

AFP-JIJI

Russia on Monday halted all dairy imports from Lithuania in a trade row over the tiny Baltic state’s bid to draw ex-Soviet nations such as Ukraine closer to the European Union.

The decision is the latest in a long series of attempts by Russia to use trade as a weapon against countries it views as part of its geopolitical domain but which are switching their allegiance to Western Europe.

It also threatens to deal a damaging economic blow to Lithuania — the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency that directs 85 percent of its dairy exports to its giant eastern neighbor.

The Russian agency responsible for overseeing consumer protection said that it was imposing the ban due to Lithuania’s “weak control” over the quality and safety of its dairy products.