Skirting sanctions: Belarus supplies Russia with original Italian Parmesan

The Belarusian authorities are always ready for building mysterious schemes and arranging shady deals. No sooner had people forgotten computers ‘Integral’, only stickers of which had been really made in Belarus, than the country started to produce original Italian Parmesan cheese…

French cheese, Polish apples, Lithuanian joghurts and Spanish sausages … Yummy! But Russia has banned these goodies to retaliate against the EU’s sanctions. But Belarusian producers of … packaging rescue Russian trenchermen: they just edit the goods’ origin. 

Several chefs in Moscow noticed another fake after supplies of Parmesan cheese were delivered to their restaurants. It was the same cheese they got before the sanctions, but it had a label ‘Made in Belarus’. No wonder: after Russia banned European food products Belarus has become a big exporter of original Belarusian octopuses and shrimps.

English subs:


“In fact, we have changed into a staging area, into a processing area between the EU and Russia on their no-objection basis, because no one is interested in economis ties’ cutting off.”

Technologically Belarusian factories are able to produce domestic equivalents of European cheese.

ALIAKSANDR LUKASHENKA, Belarusian President:

“We have modernised cheese production from the cow [first stage] to milk processing.”

But Belarusian Parmesan and Camember production volumes declared earlier have not been reached yet. According to experts, it will take one more year to flood the Russian market with real Belarusian goods. But demand is soaring, and now Russian tourists are taking home not only souvenirs, but food products from Belarus as well.


“My girlfriend works at a restaurant, I have been round to her today, there have been many cars with Russian number plates. They just came over to eat.”

“Mahiliou is the most expensive city in Belarus if compared to the other. Due to the Russian tourists’ flow we have the highest prices here.”

“There have been less cheese [in shops] now, but in general, we have enough food products.”

But the Kremlin is not satisfied: they are set to impose new bans on all ‘made in EU’.

ANDREY BELOUSOV, Kremlin economic aide:

“We have a number of non-agricultural products where our partners, primarily European, are more dependent on Russia than Russia on them. This applies, for example, to car imports, mainly used cars and on certain light industry goods, not all, but certain types of textiles.”

Well, Belarus also has manufactures of clothes and Chinese cars assembly lines. But reaping the benefit from sanctions will be possible until the Russia-EU conflict escalates.


“Then our short-term benefits might turn into losses, Belarus might become a frontline and all we have gained will be destroyed.”

Because Belarus is not only a source of Parmesan, but also an area of strategic importance for Russia.

Martsin Yarski, Belsat