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WTO Delivers Mixed Ruling In Russia, Ukraine Rail Feud

A passenger locomotive at Kyiv's central railway station in June 2017.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on February 4 ruled largely in favor of Ukraine in a dispute with Russia over railway equipment exports -- one of several rows between the two rival neighbors in their broader geopolitical spat.

The ruling stems from an appeal by Ukraine to the WTO’s appeals panel, often seen as the supreme court of world trade, regarding Russia imposing a virtual ban on imports of Ukrainian railway carriages and equipment in 2013.

Russia had annulled export certificates for a number of Ukrainian companies, including at the country’s Kryukivskiy carriage maker based in the Poltava region.

Kyiv initiated litigation in 2015, a year after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and started backing separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Exports to Russia by the affected group of Ukrainian companies had shrunk from $1.7 billion in 2013 to $51 million in January-July 2015.

Kyiv in July 2018 argued Russia was in violation of international trade agreements and was systemically blocking imports.

However, “Ukraine failed to demonstrate that Russia systemically prevented the importation of Ukrainian railway products into Russia,” the WTO said in its key findings and conclusions.

Still, the WTO’s appellate body agreed with Ukraine that Russia discriminated against it by blocking market access for Ukrainian manufacturers in comparison with Russian and European ones.

Ukraine and Russia are at odds on a number of economic issues, including debt owed by Kyiv to Moscow, misappropriated and destroyed assets in territories that Ukraine no longer controls due to either Russian occupation or alleged intervention, and natural gas supplies.

With reporting by Interfax and Reuters
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