Russia's food safety and sanitary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor will ban cattle imports from all EU countries from March 20 following the spread of the highly virulent Schmallenberg and Bluetongue viruses.
"Rosselkhoznadzor considers it necessary to inform market participants about the decision to suspend cattle and small livestock and pigs imports from the European Union states from March 20," the watchdog said in a statement.
The service will impose the ban owing to a failure by the EU sanitary agencies to provide the Russian watchdog with information about the animal epidemic, countermeasures, and antidote researches.
"Taking into account the situation in Europe with the viruses, Russia applies basic precautions which fully meet [the requirements] of the World Trade Organization as if [our country] was a full member. We eliminate any risks because there can be risks," Russia's National Meat Association head Sergei Yushin told Prime news agency.
Yushin also said the ban would not hit the Russian meat market as European imports do not play a considerable role in Russia.
Schmallenberg virus, named after the German city where it was first identified in August 2011, is spread by blood-sucking insects. Clinically the infection causes fever, gastrointestinal disorder, a sharp drop of milk production and miscarriages.
Bluetongue is also an insect-borne disease of ruminants, mainly sheep, which causes excessive salivation, swelling of the face and tongue and cyanosis of the tongue.