In response to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, Russia has now taken its ball and gone home with regard to food imports, and by "taken its ball and gone home" I mean they've shot themselves right in the kneecaps while shouting "SO THERE."
Hot on the heels of their decision to effectively ban McDonald's (a hilariously childish but a lot less potentially-catastrophic decision), Russia on Thursday declared that ALL food imports are banned from the US, the EU, Norway, Canada, and Australia.* They've straight-up said "NO, YOU WERE MEAN TO US, SO WE'RE JUST GOING TO STARVE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT" to three different continents. They're also not even pretending it's anything other than the international equivalent of a petulant child refusing to eat dinner because the entire family yelled at him for punching his little sister.
Extremely lifelike Putin sock monkey Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was pretty clear that it's a deliberately retaliatory ban:
"Until the last moment we hoped that our partners would understand that sanctions only lead to a deadlock, and no one needs them, but they didn't," he said. "We hope our partners will put a pragmatic economic approach above bad policy considerations, and they will start thinking instead of trying to scare us."
Oh, boo-fucking-hoo. Sanctions are what happen when you're culpable in the deaths of 298 civilians and then you try to lie about it, you jackass.
Russia is obviously going to scramble for other suppliers — poultry from Brazil, fruit from Turkey, fish from Chile — but it's not going to be able to cover all the bases they've just deliberately tossed into an incinerator. This will have an adverse effect on the food industry in the countries banned, sure, but it's going to be way, WAY worse for Russia's ability to feed itself than it will be for the US or the EU. Economists are pretty salient about what a terrible idea this is for them at a time when Russia's economy can ill-afford it. We've already covered the fact that Russians spend an inordinate amount of their household incomes on food, and basically everyone in the know agrees that this is going to be a tipping point:
I get that Moscow isn't Russia, but nonetheless, seriously, nearly every restaurant and grocery here will have to shut or change biz model.
— Joshua Yaffa (@yaffaesque) August 6, 2014
Russian food import ban is likely to benefit cash-strapped US & EU consumers at the expense of their spoiled farmers. Thank you Mr. Putin!
— Pol Antras (@pol_antras) August 7, 2014
People are already seeing the effects of Russia's deliberate self nut-shot, too:
Where some of the nice hard cheeses used to be at my supermarket. Staff now frantically trying to fill shelf w/ crap. pic.twitter.com/ruf1x6Hu98
— Natalia Antonova (@NataliaAntonova) August 7, 2014
It's hard to see who this helps, apart from Russians nostalgic for Cold War-era breadlines and starvation — the end-date of which, by an amazing coincidence, aligned with the decline of the Russian Empire their Dear Leader is so desperate to reclaim. By the way, I'd feel a lot more sympathetic to the average Russian if Poot-Poot's approval rating wasn't sitting at 87%.
I guess I do have sympathy — for 13% of Russians. So to them: I am so, so sorry you have to live with those people. To the other 87%: assuming you don't find a way to sustain yourselves on National Pride, enjoy your rampant inflation and crushing starvation!
Here, by the way, is the single best tweet that could possibly exist about this:
Следующей страной, которая ввела санкции против России, стала Россия.
— Artur Orujaliev (@arturclancy) August 6, 2014
Translation: "The next country to introduce sanctions against Russia was Russia."
* Interestingly, they have not banned imports from Japan, Switzerland, and New Zealand, despite all three issuing sanctions similar to those of the other countries named.
Image via Slasha/Shutterstock.