Who needs Italian wine, English cheddar, and German sausages? Obviously not Russia.
Vladimir Putin is forcing Russians to become locavores, whether they like it or not. Last Thursday, his government issued a list of imported foods that will be banned for one year. This is an act of retaliation against those countries that placed sanctions on Russia following the attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine. This includes the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway, Poland, Latvia, and the European Union.
It is an odd decision to make on behalf of a northern country that imports 40 percent of its food and is unable to boast about being “the breadbasket of Europe,” as it once was. That agricultural infrastructure is gone now, and it would take a long time and a rocky transition before local growers could fill that void.
Growth in domestic food production appears to be what the Kremlin ultimately wants and fits in well with its insistence on not needing the West to survive. Indeed, one acerbic Putinist seems to think it’s now or never for local growers. @EduardBagirov tweeted: “Our food producers now have the opportunity of a lifetime. If they screw it up now, they should stop complaining that no one buys their crap.” (Obscenities have been removed.)