The Russian government has introduced a set of new economic sanctions against Ukraine, one of which bans all shoe imports from the country. Speaking about the new trade restrictions, the Russian Economy Development Minister, Maxim Oreshkin, said that the government picked goods for which import replacement seemed to be possible.

In 2018, Ukraine accounted for less than one percent of shoe imports to Russia. On the other hand, Russia has been seen its total shoe import growing steadily over the past few years. In 2018, the country imported footwear worth $3.4bn (€3.02bn), up by 8 percent as compared to 2017 and 45 percent higher as compared to 2016.

In 2018, 52.8 percent of footwear in Russia was imported from China, 11 percent from Italy, 9.2 perfect from Vietnam, 4.2 percent from Turkey and 3.3 percent from Belarus, FCS estimated.

However, in addition to official imports, Russia also received so-called “gray imports,” which are not reflected in the official statistics. For 2018, the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry estimates that this segment added around 30 percentage points to the legal shoe imports into the country, or around $1bn (€0.89bn), per year.

It is believed that the biggest suppliers of shoes in this unofficial segment are Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and some other countries. It is not sure whether they actually originate in China or some other country. In most cases, the shoes are fakes. A significant share of the shoes is reportedly imported from “rebel” Ukrainian republics, and it is unlikely that the new sanctions will have any impact on them.