Vladimir Putin’s Cheesy Act of Defiance

Vladimir Putin’s Cheesy Act of Defiance

By Millie Dent

The United States and European Union have been squeezing Russia with sanctions since it annexed Crimea, a territory that previously belonged to Ukraine, in March 2014. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin established a ban on U.S. and EU foodstuffs a few months later as a snub to the West. 

On Thursday, Russia commemorated a tightening of that year-old ban on Western agricultural products by bulldozing bright yellow blocks of cheese. The country also streamrolled fruit and set piles of bacon ablaze. By midday, 28 metric tons of apples and tomatoes from Poland had been demolished, as well as 40 tons of apricots from an unknown country, according to The Wall Street Journal

Related: Move Over, Santa: Putin Claims the North Pole 

The Western sanctions and a plunging ruble have caused Russian food prices to spike this year. Some politicians, religious leaders and other Russian citizens denounced the destruction of the food, noting that millions of Russians are living in poverty. More than 285,000 people signed an online petition that asked Putin to distribute the food rather than destroy it. 

The Kremlin has promised to help develop Russia’s own agricultural industries and to promote domestic food products that the middle-class generally ignore in supermarkets in favor of status symbols like French cheese and Italian meat. In addition, the Kremlin announced that any contraband foodstuffs found would be destroyed. Russia’s Agricultural Minister Alexander Tkachyov said on state TV that the quality of Western food products could no longer be guaranteed.  

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