The Kremlin says it will tighten an existing ban on the import of fruits and vegetables from Europe through Bulgaria over concerns that Sofia may be attempting to send European products into Russia using false documents.
On Monday, the deputy head of Russia’s agricultural regulator, Yulia Shvabauskene, said Moscow had stopped re-exports, or the export of goods which have been imported, through Bulgaria.
Shvabauskene said Russia suspects companies in Bulgaria of using false documents to bypass the ban by labeling products from Europe as coming from countries not affected by the ban, such as China, Brazil and Morocco.
The official added that the restriction on re-exports through Bulgaria is “just the start” and that Moscow was “examining the option of not accepting any European re-export certificates at all.”
Russia blocked most food imports from the United States and countries within the European Union in response to Western sanctions against the country.
The Western powers imposed sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow instigated a deadly crisis in neighboring Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations to crack down on pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine last year. Russia has denied the allegations.
Prior to the food ban, Russia received a quarter of its produce from the EU nations.
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