UPDATE 1-A day after sanctions, Russia bans Polish fruit and veg
By first targeting Poland, which was part of the Soviet bloc until just over two decades ago, Moscow is striking at one of the EU's most strident supporters of increased sanctions against Russia for its backing of rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Russia's Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) will restrict most fruit and vegetable imports from Poland starting from Aug. 1, due to "the violation of certification and the identification of quarantine products", spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said.
"Our restrictions are not linked with EU sanctions, because this situation (with Polish imports) has been developing for a long time," Alekseenko said. "We impose these limits not to try to get something from the Polish side, but to have our rights observed as a WTO (World Trade Organization) member."
Tomasz Solis, deputy head of the Polish Fruitgrowers Association, told Reuters the decision was "politically motivated".
"The political situation in Ukraine would sooner or later have affected our relations with Russia," he said. "Russia is one of our prime target markets, with 60 or perhaps even 70 percent of our exports going there."
Alekseenko said the move was part of a VPSS plan to consider restricting all or some fruit imports from the European Union, which was announced with little fanfare on July 28 while European countries were debating the latest sanctions. Moscow should decide the fate of overall EU imports in a week or two, it said at the time. (Additional reporting by Wiktor Szary in Warsaw; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Peter Graff)
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