Though the tit-for-tat move is likely to deepen the political standoff between the Kremlin and the West, it is important to note that considering its size, Russia punches below its weight in terms of imports.
Imports amounted to 315 billion dollars in 2013, placing Russia 16th in the ranking of the world’s largest importers. Germany, for example, imported more than four times that amount over the same period. Spain, Singapore and Mexico are among the countries with a higher volume of imports.
Russia derives a large portion of its imports from China (16.9 per cent), a relationship that will not be affected by the ban. The second largest exporter to Russia is Germany (12 per cent), followed by the United States (5.3 per cent), Ukraine (5 per cent) and Italy (4.6 per cent).
The bulk of Russia’s economic power comes from its crude oil, natural gas, coal and precious metals business. The largest proportion of items imported by Russia is the electrical and engineering equipment and machinery needed to support this (44.9 per cent).
Precursors and chemical substances (12.8 per cent) and consumer articles (12.2 per cent) are the second and third largest import groups. Only 10.9 per cent of imports are agricultural products.
Despite this, the European Union is likely to feel some economic pain as a result of the move.
A tenth of the EU’s total exports to Russia, equivalent to 11.9 billion euros (15.9 billion dollars) in 2013, are agricultural products. This includes fruit, cheese, pork, vegetables and liquor.