KYIV – Reports indicate that the Russian Federation is once again tightening custom controls along its border with Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the Association of International Automobile Carriers of Ukraine published an “URGENT” memo on its website, notifying members of “changes in the procedures for customs control and clearance of goods into the territory of the Russian Federation of Ukraine.”
The Association advises that, as of January 28th, 100 per cent of customs vehicles traveling from Ukraine to Russia will be unloaded and inspected—and that “customs clearance of goods” may now take “up to 10-15 working days.” Documents confirming the customs value of goods will also need be cleared by Central Customs management in Moscow.
This is not the first time that Russia has, without warning, made efforts to reduce or block Ukrainian imports.
In August 2013, Russia blocked all imports coming from Ukrainian territory, fueling speculation of an impending trade war in the region. Experts speculated that the attempt was meant to dissuade Kyiv from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit in late November.
On Tuesday, the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych voted to repeal a set of draconian anti-protest laws that was passed on January 16th, and which drew condemnation from numerous European officials. It appears likely that Russia’s new measures are an effort to punish Yanukovych for ceding to European Union demands that the laws be removed.
Widespread protests broke out in Ukraine in mid-November, after President Yanukovych abandoned a planned Association Agreement with the European Union in favour of a move towards customs union with Russia.