The Russian government has criticised the EU for filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Moscow's import ban on EU pigmeat and pigs.

The Russians have imposed the ban following four cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) detected in Lithuania and Poland but the EU claims Moscow's actions are not based on science, as required by WTO rules.

"We are forced to take this matter to the WTO because we have exhausted all diplomatic avenues to try and find a solution, a European Commission trade spokesperson said.

However, Russia refuted that claim, saying the EU had failed to approach officials for the customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, rather focusing its efforts on Moscow.

Alexei Alexeyenko, advisor to Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary control authority, Rosselkhoznadzor, said: "The European Commission's claim is directed against us as a member of the World Trade Organization…it is not inclined to recognise de facto the existence of the customs union and ask the letter to help settle the dispute."

Russia closed its market to the EU at the end of January, cutting off almost 25% of all EU exports. The EU claims there is no scientific basis for Russia's decision and that the ban has exposed the EU farming sector to significant losses.