The head of the foreign relations relations committee of Russian parliament, Ian Zelinski, revealed yesterday that Duma is preparing an initiative to embargo Georgian wine and water. This would include an embargo on Georgian wine and Borjomi mineral water. Russia has previously embargoed Georgian wine in 2006. The embargo lasted until May 2013 and was removed after the direct negotiations between Moscow and Tbilisi were opened under the current government. In 2014, Kremlin embargoed import of onions, carrots, peppers, melons and watermelons from Georgia as a response to the EU sanctions.
Today the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, announced that the sanctions against Crimea and Sevastopol will be prolonged for another year, until July 23, 2017. Six non-EU countries, including Georgia, have joined this decision.
Russian parliamentarian Ian Zelinski said the idea behind the embargo initiative is that countries which supported the EU’s sanctions will then regret their decision once they are hit by Russia’s responsive sanctions. Zelinski pointed out Georgia’s case: “We should of course react. We will recommend measures. We’ll be better off without their wine and mineral water. We have our own sources for these products. We should develop the industry in Crimea to produce wine there and without the chemical additions like in Georgian wine.”
Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Relations with Russia, said that he does not believe the threat of a potential embargo is realistic: “I’m not expecting that to happen. It’s not a decision yet, just an initiative proposed by one of the members of Russian parliament. Nothing new happened, this is the same reality as it happened in 2014.
On the 1st of July, the European Union has also prolonged economic sanctions against Russia for another six months, until January 31, 2017. In response to this decision, Russia is prohibiting imports of goods produced in the US, Canada, Australia, Norway, Ukraine, Albania, Montenegro, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Russia will leave keep these sanctions until December, 31, 2017