Russia cuts imports from Turkey and may increase trade with Israel

Jerusalem could stand to benefit from the deteriorating relationship between Ankara and Moscow by replacing Turkey as an exporter of vegetables to Russia.

By: AP and World Israel News

Moscow plans to retaliate against Turkey for the downing of a Russian warplane by imposing sanctions, cutting economic ties and scrapping major investment projects.

Since the plane was shot down Tuesday on the Syria-Turkey border, Russia has already restricted tourism, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border and announced the confiscation of large quantities of Turkish food imports.

On Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered his government to also draft sanctions against Turkey within the next two days in response to the downing of the Russian Su-24, which he described as an “act of aggression against our country.”

The sanctions will include “restrictions and bans on Turkish economic structures operating in Russian territory, restrictions and bans on deliveries of products, including foodstuffs,” as well as on labor and services.

Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev on Wednesday said that Russia may substitute imports of vegetables from Turkey with those supplied from Iran, Israel, and Morocco due to a “breach in sanitary regulations,” according to YNET.

“Turkish vegetables account for 20 percent of the total Russian imports of vegetables. Import of vegetables, tomatoes in the first place, will be substituted with those from Iran, Morocco, Israel, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan,” the minister said, adding that Turkey supplies more than 360,000 tons, of tomatoes to Russia.

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Overall, the nosedive in relations threatens billions of dollars of international trade, as well as further complicating the Syrian conflict.

Russia is the largest destination for Turkey’s exports, and the two countries are bound by plans for a new gas pipeline and strong trade in food and tourism.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been at a low since the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, when the IDF clashed with Gaza-bound anti-Israel activists on the Turkish flotilla.