Belarus benefits from Russian bans on foreign products and services
Since the start of 2014, Russia has embraced sanctions as a foreign policy tool, banning food imports from the European Union and United States over the Ukraine crisis, and now also cutting off flights to some countries.
For Belarus, that has meant a rush in demand for food. And thanks to new bans on Russian air travel to Ukraine, it is now also enjoying a boom in sales for its national airline as Russians transit through the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
Following Russia’s ban on EU food imports, Belarus has become Russia’s largest supplier of kiwi fruit, while apple exports to Russia are up 96 percent in a year and citrus exports up 60 percent.
Besides legitimate sales, there is a thriving but hard-to-quantify market in re-selling EU goods rebadged as Belarusian, made easier because the country’s customs union with Russia means reduced border checks. Soon after Russia introduced its food sanctions last year, Moscow shoppers began to spot Belarusian fish and seafood on sale, even though the country is landlocked.
Bucking the trend, however, is state airline Belavia, which has tripled flights to Ukraine in the last two months to cope with a surge in demand from Russians who can no longer fly there directly. In October, the governments of Russia and Ukraine suspended all flights between the countries as diplomatic relations remained tense. Anyone wishing to travel from Moscow to the Ukrainian capital Kiev now faces either a 12-hour train ride or a trip through a third country
Belavia, which in September operated two flights a day to Kiev, on Friday introduced a fourth. It has new routes to three other Ukrainian cities to cope with a rush of Russians and Ukrainians traveling between the two countries for work or to visit relatives. It has also introduced Ukrainian-language onboard announcements to suit its new passengers.
Source: Washington Times.