The battle for influence over former Soviet states is being played out not just in central Kyiv, but also in the vineyards of Moldova with major financial consequences.
Russia has again banned imports of Moldovan wine saying it has found impurities – as it did in 2006 – but the effect this time around is not so dramatic, according to the country’s biggest producer, Vinaria Purcari
The company’s chief executive, Victor Bostan, said it was much worse then: “In 2006 I lost more than $10 million because of the embargo. In 2013 I lost around $1 million.”
After the 2006 embargo his company changed its export strategy.
Before 2006, 80 percent of their wine went to Russia; when the latest ban came into effect last September it was only 20 percent.
Increasingly Moldovan wine is heading not east but west, to Europe which has relaxed import restrictions.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos told euronews: “The European Union has fully opened up its market to Moldovan wine, there are no limits and no duties.”
Brussels believes the ban by Moscow was actually introduced to punish Moldova for moving forward with a trade partnership agreement with the EU.
Meanwhile the winemakers are looking west for financing to expand and modernise.
Vinaria Purcari’s Victor Bostan told us: “The European Investment Bank has been extraordinarily helpful towards Moldova, offering credit lines of 75 million euros so that winemakers can invest and modernise the industry.”
One area where money will be spent is on testing, improving facilities which the Moldovans say are already state-of-the-art.
They also insist that tests there, and at independent testing facilities, prove there are no impurities in their wine.