Russia has a history of banning food products from countries with which it is sparring politically. It has, in the past, banned wine from Georgia, chocolate from Ukraine and, in 2010, chicken thighs from the U.S.
Now it is Lithuania's turn. Last week, Russia banned imports of Lithuanian dairy products after Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia's health watchdog, said his agency found high traces of yeast, fungus, and bacteria from intestinal tracts in them. Many pointed to the fact that next month, Lithuania will host a summit at which three ex-Soviet states are expected to sign association agreements with the European Union, moving them further outside Moscow's orbit. Lithuania's prime minister told the AP that Russia was attempting to punish it for taking part in the talks. Earlier this month, Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said the country could block Russian access to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave separated from the mainland by the three Baltic countries.
Meet #freedomcheese, Lithuania's answer to Moscow's dairy ban.
Linkevicius coined the term in response to a tweet by Edward Lucas, international editor at The Economist.
Poland's foreign minister tweeted in support of brandy from Moldova, whose exports also came under Russian pressure when it gravitated towards the EU.
Lucas, a longtime Baltic booster and fervent Kremlin opponent, was really into the idea of #freedomcheese.
Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71
Contact Max Seddon at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.