Ukraine: The "Chocolate War" with Russia Opens Up a Dairy Front
Although the rules of conflict forbid the targeting of civilians, that hasn't stopped Russia and Ukraine from punishing each other's populations with a very cruel method: cutting off access to beloved chocolate and candy brands.
Moscow fired the first shot in this confectionary war, placing a ban last summer on chocolates, candies and cookies made by Roshen, a Ukrainian company that is one of Europe's largest manufacturers of sweets and whose products have a large and devoted following in Russia. As the New York Times explained last October: "Roshen was doing so well in Russia partly because it introduced a Russian Classic line of chocolates, reviving 18 Soviet brands like the Seagull bar, a plain milk chocolate slab with a Socialist Realist style beach scene on the wrapper."
Russia's powerful (and impressively named) Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) lifted the Roshen ban the same day Ukraine's ousted former government announced last November it was canceling plans to sign a trade agreement with the European Union and was joining a customs union with Russia instead. But with tensions between Moscow and the new government in Kiev rising, the Ukrainians have taken a page from the Kremlin's playbook, halting imports from the Russian state-owned United Confectioners, which means Ukrainian sweet tooths will for now not be able to buy, among other products, bars of Red October chocolate milk or "batonchiks" of Rot Front praline candy.
Not to be outdone, the Kremlin -- in the form of Rospotrebnadzor -- has retaliated by opening up a new front in the food-based trade war with Ukraine, announcing earlier this week that it has banned the import of products made by six different Ukrainian dairies.
No word yet on what Kiev's next moves might be in this brewing lactic battle, but clearly the food fight between Russia and Ukraine will continue, especially considering that one of the front runners to become the next Ukrainian president is Petro Poroshenko, the owner of Roshen, whose feelings towards Moscow could be described as anything but sweet.