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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Experts: Salt Fears Don't Hold Water

Itar-TassA woman at a market in the Ivanovo region Wednesday holding a bag of salt, which, along with sugar, is selling fast.
Experts on Wednesday insisted that Russia is not dependent on Ukrainian salt, saying recent panic buying in central Russia was completely unjustified. The run on supplies in several regions began earlier this week, with salt sales increasing as much as 16-fold after media reported that salt deliveries from Ukraine might be halted.

"It all began with reports from Voronezh that Ukraine was reducing its salt supplies to Russia," the Nizhny Novgorod region deputy governor said of the events earlier this week, Interfax reported. "After that, the people [of our region] bought up a month's worth of salt." He suggested that the frenzy could have been sparked intentionally by entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the resultant crisis.

Sharp increases in salt prices were also reported in Tula, Kirov, Penza and Saratov, with Interfax saying that prices rose by more than 10 times in some areas, reaching as much as 60 rubles ($2.10) for 900 grams.

Regional authorities and suppliers called on consumers not to panic, Interfax reported, quoting the head of Moscow's department of food resources as saying that the city had enough salt reserves to last at least 30 days.

Experts from the Institute of Agricultural Market Studies insisted that Russian imports from Ukraine do not constitute a "salt dependency," Interfax reported. They said that in many regions it was cheaper to import salt from Ukraine than from far-flung Russian suppliers, but less than one-quarter of the country's total salt supply is imported from its southern neighbor.

American media reported last summer that U.S. President George W. Bush was reading a book on the history of salt, including its significance in international relations, but he has not yet commented on the geopolitical significance of the current crisis on Russian-Ukrainian relations.