Russians have launched a retaliatory Internet campaign of tongue-in-cheek sanctions against US President Obama, Reuters reports. It includes Twitter users forbidding Obama from Russian vodka under the hashtag “MySanctions” (#МоиСанкции).
There’s every chance Obama enjoys vodka. The Distilled Spirits Council of the US calls it “the backbone of the spirits industry” accounting for 32% of sales volume in 2013. There’s an even better chance that the vodka he (or anyone else in the US) drinks comes from France, or Sweden, or the Netherlands. As the trade data below shows, Russia was eclipsed by Poland and Latvia as a source for US imported vodka back in 2011.
Even Stolichnaya is no longer a product of Russia. It’s distilled in Latvia and owned by a Luxembourg company controlled by a Russian exile. (Which is why Latvia’s leading gay rights group appealed to its Western counterparts to stop boycotting Stoli in protest over Russia’s infringement of gay civil rights, as the Los Angeles Times reported. It is only fair to note that there are US activists who dispute the claim that it is fully a product of Latvia.)
Overall, US trade with Russia is limited – accounting for less than a percentage point of US exports, a bit over one percent of imports. (See Trade Data Points to Potential Impact of Russia Sanctions.) We didn’t expect it, but the data makes clear that US-Russian trade in vodka is limited as well, accounting for just 1.76% of US vodka imports in 2013.