The European Commission has announced emergency EU funding of 125 million euros ($170 million) for fruit and vegetable growers hit by Russia’s ban on most imported Western food.
The funding is compensation for fresh produce which will not be sold, reports the BBC. Instead it will be distributed free to schools, hospitals and other institutions. Grapes and pears are among the major fruit crops included in the scheme.
Russia has banned many food imports, angry at EU-US sanctions over Ukraine.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Monday that the EU sanctions must stay in place “in order to show how serious we are” on the Ukraine crisis.
She was speaking in Latvia, an EU member state with a large ethnic Russian minority. Its Baltic neighbor Lithuania is especially hard hit by the Russian import ban.
EU and US sanctions are targeting top Russian officials and key economic sectors, such as energy and finance, as Western leaders accuse the Kremlin of destabilizing eastern Ukraine by supporting the pro-Russian separatists there. The first round of Western sanctions came after Russia annexed Crimea in March.