By Oleksa Martiniouk
If you ask a Russian about sanctions, they’ll tell you to look at their cheese aisles. At grocery stores around the country, the aisles are increasingly stocked with domestically-produced cheese products, of which 78 percent do not contain true dairy. The ban on Western meat, fish, produce, and dairy—a reaction to the Western sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine—has limited food supplies and agitated Russian consumers.
In the quest for goods, some have traveled to neighboring countries to do their grocery shopping. Others, particularly food importers, have tried to bypass the law; mass food relabeling in neighboring countries like Belarus has helped satiate the Russian appetite for foreign products. The Russian government has worked to curb this practice by bulldozing and cremating tons of illegally imported foods.
The result of the food fight is inflation rates of over twenty percent. Coupled with the country’s soaring poverty rates, the sanctions—meant, in theory, to punish Western producers by cutting them off from the Russian market—has only punished the poor by limiting their access to affordable food. Despite this, public opinion in the realm of Russian policy-making is split: Some see the food sanctions as destructive, while others see them as growing pains of an increasingly self-sufficient Russian agricultural sector.
Tags: Issue IV