Ukraine to ban imports from Moldova in retaliation against grain ban

Ukraine is preparing to ban imports from Moldova in a tit-for-tat response to a potential ban on Ukrainian grain announced on May 6.

"We have informed Chisinau that any restriction on the part of Moldova will be considered an extremely unfriendly step and will entail an immediate ban on all imports from Moldova," Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture Taras Kachka said.

Moldova’s government intends to join a month-long EU ban on some Ukrainian grains while allowing their transit, Agriculture Minister Vladimir Bolea said after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solskyi on May 6.

The European Commission on May 2 banned the import of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds to "alleviate logistical bottlenecks" related to these goods in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia until June 5.

In exchange, these countries pledged to cancel their unilateral limits on these and other Ukrainian products, and they would still be obligated to transport these goods elsewhere.

Bolea told Solskyi "about Moldova's intention to align with the EU decision establishing a temporary measure on the import" of some Ukrainian grain, "ensuring the transit," according to Moldova’s Agriculture Ministry.

"The quantity of local cereals in the warehouses is high, which puts pressure on farmers. They are worried that they will not have spaces for the new harvest," Bolea said.

Russia blocked Ukrainian Black Sea ports after the full-scale invasion, hindering Ukraine from exporting its grain and forcing Kyiv to export it through neighboring countries, primarily Poland.

Large quantities of cheap Ukrainian grain entered Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, affecting domestic markets and causing an uproar among local farmers.

Ukraine's overload of food exports to the EU has become a thorn in Kyiv's relationship with its close neighbors amid a long-running political conflict between these countries and the European Commission.

President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with European Council President Charles Michel on April 28 regarding the ban, calling it "a gross violation of the Association Agreement and the founding treaties of the EU."

"This gives the Kremlin dangerous hope, the hope that in our common European home, someone's wrong decisions can prevail over common interests," Zelensky said in his evening address on April 28.