Russia must stop hostile EU countries cashing in on sanctions – official

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Ports in Latvia and Lithuania have become a gateway for mass wine and whisky imports

Mass deliveries of wine and whisky to Russia via the ‘hostile’ Baltic nations must be stopped, Sergey Ivanov, a special representative to president Putin, has said. There is no need to impose an embargo on imports from ‘unfriendly’ countries, however, he added.

In an interview to the Russia 24 TV channel on Thursday, Ivanov, whose remit includes environmental protection, ecology and transportation, said that wine and whiskey are imported in large batches to Russia via Latvia and Lithuania, despite the sanctions.

“We allow the Baltic ports to profiteer at our expense,” Ivanov said. “[These harbors] only exist thanks to cargoes to or from Russia,” he added.

Latvia, a vocal supporter of Ukraine and the sanctions against Moscow, became Russia’s top supplier of whisky last year, outpacing all other exporters combined, RIA Novosti reported earlier this month, citing industry data.

According to Western experts, since the start of the EU sanctions campaign against Russia in 2022, the small Baltic nation has acted as a middleman for Western spirits entering the Russian market.

Latvia’s neighbor Lithuania was Russia’s second-largest whisky supplier last year, the RIA Novosti data showed.

Ivanov said that he was “categorically” opposed to an embargo on the supply of wine and whiskey from unfriendly states.

The term ‘unfriendly’ refers to countries that imposed unilateral trade and economic sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

“I am in favor of continuing supplies, only via other routes, not through the Baltics,” Ivanov said, naming Russia’s own ports on the Baltic Sea, and ports on the Black Sea as possible alternatives.

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