With apple-picking season underway in Moldova, Vasile Nitrean, a farmer in Soroca, a northeastern town near the Ukrainian border, says he has “big problems.” For the past 15 years, he has sold his crop to Russian buyers. Now, because of a Russian ban, he, along with many other farmers, needs to find a new market, and fast.
“We will gather [the apples] as we once did to export them to Russia, only this time we will take them and place them in front of the [Moldovan] government [building],” Nitrean said, fuming.
The Russian embargo, introduced on July 21, covers imports of Moldovan apples, plums, peaches and canned fruit. Russia also scrapped duty-free exemptions for 19 categories of Moldovan products. Subsequently, Russia imposed bans on a wide array of Western foodstuffs.
The moves against Moldova are widely seen as retaliation for the country’s decision to sign a free-trade deal and association agreement with the European Union, which Moscow sees as encroaching on its traditional sphere of influence.
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Victoria Puiu is a journalist who writes for the weekly newspaper Timpul (Times) in Chișinău, Moldova.