Kiev takes WTO decision on transit dispute as justification for sanctions against Russia

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KIEV, April 5. /TASS/. The decision of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body in Russia’s favor in dispute with Ukraine over transit of goods can be interpreted as recognizing the legitimacy of Ukraine’s sanctions against Russia, Advisor to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Roksolana Pidlasa said on Friday.

“Such conclusions of the group of experts mean that all actions of Ukraine in the trade and economic sphere aimed at countering Russian aggression are certainly justified in the eyes of international law and the international community – sanctions, embargo, restrictions in the sphere of monetary and financial regulation and all other restrictive measures,” she said.

According to Pidlasa, the Ministry of Economic Development is studying the materials of the case and is developing a strategy to further protect the interests of Ukraine in the WTO framework.

Meanwhile, Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin believes that the decision adds weight to Russia’s arguments in a dispute with the United States on duties on steel and aluminum. “Last year, the United States imposed duties on steel and aluminum imports, and now the US authorities are trying to explain this step by the need to protect national security. The decision gives weight to our arguments in the dispute with the US,” the Minister said.

The WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruled that Russia had grounds for imposing restrictions on Ukrainian cargo transit through Russian territory.

According to the report, “Russia asserted that the measures were among those that it considered necessary for the protection of its essential security interests, which it took in response to the emergency in international relations that occurred in 2014, and which presented threats to Russia’s essential security interests”. As a result, “the Panel lacked jurisdiction to further address the matter”.

Russia imposed restrictions on transit of Ukrainian goods to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2016. From January 1, 2016, the free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU came into force. In the circumstances, Russia, according to the Foreign Ministry, was forced to take measures that leveled the risks for its economy and suspended the free trade zone agreement in relation to Ukraine.

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