Russia has declared current meat import licences void and told meat importers that they need to apply for new licences, in a move that effectively halts imports of meat to the country.

“Importers which plan shipments of beef and pork in February and March, and poultry meat in February to April, should urgently renew their licences,” a letter dated January 29 from Chief Veterinary Inspector Mikhail Kravchuk was quoted by Reuters.

The letter said the order was linked to Russia’s announcement last week of annual import quotas for beef, pork and poultry.

“The way we read it is that the Russians want to reduce the annual import quotas coming into effect from April by the volumes which have already been delivered so far this year,” a spokesman for the German meat industry association was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“We suspect the moves…could effectively suspend all Russian meat imports for at least two weeks,” he added.

For more about Russia’s meat import quotas, click here.