|The Montenegrin governemnt building.|
Russia on Thursday said it had added Montenegro to the list of countries from which it was banning food imports in retaliation to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
The expanded list incudes Ukraine, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Georgia and Norway, all countries that have aligned themselves with a recent decision by the EU to extend sanctions against Russia for another year.
“The Russian government has expanded the list of countries which supported EU sanctions against Russia, and has introduced the food ban against them,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.
After Moscow’s announcement, Montenegro on Thursday said it regretted the move, noting that it wanted the tit-for-tat sanctions situation resolved as soon as possible.
“The government remains committed to maintaining political dialogue with the Russian Federation and to building good relationships in all areas of mutual interest, actively advocating that the reasons which led to the introduction of restrictive measures by the European Union, which was joined by Montenegro as a candidate country for the membership, should be resolved as soon as possible,” the government said.
Montenegro has long had close ties to Russia, dating back to the reign of Tsar Peter the Great, when Russia agreed to take the small Orthodox principality under its protective wing.
The decision of the government of Milo Djukanovic to join the EU sanctions against Moscow last March sparked criticism, especially from ethnic Serbs, who tend to revere Russia and also to oppose the government’s intention to join NATO by the end of this year.
The Russian measures are unlikely to significantly affect Montenegro, which exports little to Russia. The Montenegrin Institute for Statistics said that of a total of 350 million euro worth exports in 2014, only 4 million euro referred to Russia, mainly meat products and wine.
In 2014, Montenegro imported goods worth only about 3.1 million euro from Russia, a fraction of its total import needs.