Russia's complaints to WTO on Ukrainian sanctions prove effective
The fact that Russia has sent a request to consult with the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement body over the restrictions imposed by Ukraine against the Russian Federation proves the effectiveness of Kyiv's efforts, Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko has said.
"Our position is crystal clear: we have the right to introduce such restrictions, and these restrictions concern national security. If Russia is hysterical that their economic rights have been violated by the fact that we imposed new sanctions and blocked part (Russia's VKontakte, Odnoklassniki social networks)... controlled by the FSB [Russia's security service], then probably these sanctions are effective if Russia is so disturbed by this action of the Ukrainian authorities," Petrenko told journalists in Kyiv on Monday.
At the same time, the minister said: "Their complaints to the WTO will be given proper legal assessment from Ukraine, as well as WTO members."
Yet, he said, Ukraine would continue blocking the sanctioned websites and social media.
"Ukrainian citizens will do without Odnoklassniki and VKontakte - it's no big deal for us," he added.
As was reported, Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin announced on May 20 that Russia had sent a request to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body to hold consultations in regards to the restrictions imposed on the country by Ukraine.
"Russia's permanent mission to the WTO in Geneva has sent a request to the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body and the Ukrainian government to hold consultations in regards to restrictions, bans, special requirements and procedures, which have been constantly imposed on Russian goods, services, and persons at the Ukrainian market since 2014, as well as on transit through Ukraine," Oreshkin said following a meeting with WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo as part of the APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi on Saturday.
The minister said he has informed the WTO head about that in particular at the meeting.
"There are substantial grounds to believe that Ukraine has been taking those measures in breach of its obligations in the WTO, including additional obligations which it had assumed while joining the organization. Moreover, the amount of anti-Russian measures, their nature, and the scope of sectors subjected to restrictions prove that Ukraine consistently and deliberately violates its international agreements, ignoring the rules of international trade and other norms of international law. At that, some of those measures not only fail to protect the Ukrainian economy, but, on the contrary, cause further problems for it," Oreshkin said, voicing Russia's stance on restrictions imposed by Ukraine.
"In particular, the restrictions in question are bans on import from Russia of meat and dairy products, wine, railroad equipment, fertilizers and many other goods. The special procedures are used for import of Russian books and other printed materials. Special tax treatment is imposed on import of second-hand cars from Russia. Activities of hundreds of Russian companies are banned or restricted in a discriminatory manner in Ukraine," he said.
In accordance with the WTO procedures, a request for consultations is the first stage of filing a lawsuit. The WTO regulations stipulate that consultations with the Ukrainian government for the purpose seeking a mutually acceptable solution to the existing situation shall be held in two months.
"If consultations don't yield the desired results, we have the right to initiate the second stage of a dispute, the referral of a case to the panel for consideration," Oreshkin said.