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New Russian import restrictions pile pressure on Ukraine

New Russian import restrictions pile pressure on Ukraine
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Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, has pledged to do everything possible to bring an end to border chaos caused by new Russian import restrictions.

Some claim the controls imposed by Moscow on scores of Ukrainian products are an attempt to dissuade its neighbour from turning towards Europe – and away from its former Soviet ally.

In an interview, Azarov said there were difficulties, which he thought were linked to the creation of a Customs Union, referring to a Moscow-led alliance which Russia wants Ukraine to join.

Last month, Russia banned confectionery imports from Ukraine, citing safety concerns. It came after President Vladimir Putin failed to persuade his counterpart Viktor Yanukovich to rethink his European move.

Meanwhile, Russian health officials say they want reassurances over products.

“As soon as we are persuaded that everything is ok, we will cancel our controls,” said Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s Chief Public Health Official.

“If the laboratories of Ukraine provide us with guarantees that the products comply with the rules, we will be able to let the goods to pass through the border.”

Putin and Yanukovich reportedly discussed the issue by phone on Friday.

Business experts say the latest import restrictions could cost Ukrainian companies up to 1.8 billion euros in losses.