Latvia Sets Precedent in EU by Banning Grain Imports from Russia and Belarus

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.22 - 2024 10:15 PM CET

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Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
Latvia Sets Precedent in EU by Banning Grain Imports from Russia and Belarus.

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On February 22, Latvia's parliament made a landmark decision to prohibit the import of grain from Belarus and Russia, marking it as the first European Union member to implement such a ban.

According to Kyiv Independent, this move came after a notable increase in Russian grain flowing through Latvia into the EU, with over 380,000 metric tons imported in 2023, up from approximately 80,000 tons the previous year, as reported by a Latvian official in December 2023.

It's important to note that this statistic excludes grain transported from Russia through Latvia to non-EU countries.

The decision followed earlier protests by farmers against grain imports from these two countries. Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics had already expressed his support for such a ban on January 24, citing both political and economic reasons.

Rinkevics highlighted the problematic nature of Russian grain imports, suggesting they not only bolster the Russian economy and, by extension, its military efforts but also raised concerns that some of the grain being labeled as Russian might actually be sourced from Ukrainian territories under Russian control.

Latvian lawmaker Janis Reirs, in addressing parliament, emphasized the ethical implications of consuming products originating from Russia, which could indirectly support what he termed as a "criminal regime." He stressed that engaging in or benefiting from international crimes without facing consequences is contrary to societal morals, ethical standards, and the country's value system.

The implementation of this ban is scheduled to take effect in two weeks from the date of the parliamentary vote, with the Latvian government tasked with determining the specific products to be included in the interim.

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