Russia Escalates Economic Pressure against Moldova
On June 27, 2014, Moldova (along with Ukraine and Georgia) signed EU Association Agreements during a signing ceremony in Brussels. The ceremony took place amidst Russian threats of economic retaliation for the perceived choice by these countries of Western integration over their relationships with Russia and the what Moscow believes to be meddling by the West into its historic sphere of influence. For Moldova, Russian threats of economic penalties are already a reality. In September 2013, Russia banned the import of Moldovan wine, claiming that shipments showed contamination (a similar claim to that made against chocolate imports from Ukraine in that same time period). On June 16, 2014, Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexei Likhachev said, ‘‘‘Moldova cannot combine two regulatory systems: of the CIS and of the EU. It will have to make some choice. And if it is in favor of the European system, then the CIS system will cease to be comfortable.‘ On July 2, 2014, Russia banned meat exports from Moldova, with Russia’s veterinary authority referring to health risks, and, on July 10, 2014, new threats emerged with regard to Moldova’s produce exports potentially not meeting their regulatory standards. Reports also exist that Moldova’s canned goods exports to Russia are being taken off the market. These are clearly politically-driven decisions that are similar to those erupting prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.