In a shift of trade relations sparked by geopolitical tensions, Russia has initiated purchases of bananas from India amidst a sour disagreement with Ecuador, previously its principal banana supplier. This move comes in the wake of Ecuador‘s decision to exchange Russian-manufactured military equipment for sophisticated weaponry from the United States.
In January, Russia received its inaugural consignment of bananas from India, with a subsequent delivery scheduled for the end of February. Rosselkhoznadzor, Russian agricultural watchdog, highlighted that “the volume of exports of Indian bananas to the Russian market will increase,” signaling a growing reliance on Indian banana imports.
India, recognized for its substantial banana production, has also shown willingness to export additional fruits like mangoes, pineapples, papaya, and guava to Russia.
Rosselkhoznadzor recently halted banana imports from five Ecuadorian companies due to pest detections. However, Ecuador’s food safety authority countered, noting that only a minuscule fraction of the shipments to Russia contained insects, posing no significant risk.
Although Russian officials have not directly connected the decision to import bananas from India with the diplomatic friction involving Ecuador and the US, Russia’s approach to limit food imports from countries it has disagreements with is well-documented.
The backdrop to these developments is a deal criticized by Moscow, in which Ecuador agreed to transfer Russian military hardware to the US, a move that Russia perceives as supporting Ukraine against it in the ongoing conflict. This exchange is part of a larger geopolitical chess game, with Russia seeking to diversify its trade partnerships amid Western sanctions related to its military actions in Ukraine.
Trade relations between Russia and India have deepened since 2022, as Russia looks to non-Western countries to counterbalance the impact of these sanctions. Before the dispute, Russia was the largest importer of Ecuadorian bananas, a testament to the significant role Ecuador played in Russia’s fruit import strategy. India, along with China, was one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil in 2023.
Before the conflict in 2022, Russia was the foremost importer of bananas from Ecuador, which accounted for 20-25% of Ecuador’s annual banana exports, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
This trade pivot occurs against the backdrop of ongoing international discussions about the conflict in Ukraine and trade agreements.
(With inputs from agencies)

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