Exports of Russian vodka and spirits fell to their lowest level in a decade, according to Reuters Tuesday. Compared with 2014, last year's exports fell more than 40 percent in volume and value. Exports have fallen to their lowest level since 2005. Citing customs data, the value of vodka and spirits exports fell to $111.9 million in 2015 from $187.1 million in 2014.
Ukraine was the largest importer of Russian alcohol prior to the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the conflict in the country's east between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukrainian government that has left more than 9,000 people dead. Exports to Ukraine have, in turn, fallen from $38.6 million to $3.87 million, according to the Moscow Times.
Other revenues from exports to major markets also reportedly dropped significantly because of sanctions, including to Britain (35 percent), Latvia (14 percent) and Germany (28.6 percent). The three nations represented the three largest importers of Russian vodka, according to Reuters.
Russia's bombing campaign in Syria -- which many have said the Kremlin has struck civilian targets, while Russia has claimed it has only targeted terrorists -- has also ratcheted up tensions with the West. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a recent security conference in Munich that relations between the West and Russia had devolved into what could be described as "a new Cold War."
The uptick in tensions has had clear ramifications on trade and has largely caused the steep drop in Russian exports of vodka and spirits.
"Relations between Russia and the West have been spoiled because of events in Ukraine and Syria and that could be the biggest reason for the fall in sales of Russian vodka," Vadim Drobiz, an expert on the Russian alcohol market, told Kommersant via Reuters.
The Reuters report cited the Kommersant newspaper.