Highlighting worsening relations, EU challenges Russia at WTO over pork import ban

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BRUSSELS – The European Union is opening a case against Russia before the World Trade Organization to protest a pork import ban which it calls disproportionate and illegal.

Tuesday’s action comes as relations between the sides have worsened over the crisis in Ukraine, which has seen Moscow annex the Crimean Peninsula and the EU retaliate with sanctions against Russian officials.

Russia banned EU pork imports in January following four cases of African swine fever found in boar on the Lithuanian and Polish borders with Belarus. At the time, relations with the EU had already taken a nosedive.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht called the ban “clearly disproportionate.” Tuesday’s EU action opens two months of consultations with Russia after which the EU may request the Geneva-based WTO to rule on it.

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