MOSCOW, April 8 (RAPSI) - The European Union initiated a case in the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenging Russia’s ban on EU pork imports, the European Commission has announced on Tuesday.

The European Commission claims that Russia’s decision to close its market to the EU was based on four isolated cases of African swine flu. The illness was purportedly detected in wild boar discovered along Belarus’ borders with Lithuania and Poland.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said, “Russia's blanket ban on European pork is clearly disproportionate and goes against WTO rules. This was a very minor case of a few infected wild boars at the borders with Belarus which was immediately contained by the relevant European authorities. After weeks of talks with our Russian counterparts to try to resolve this issue, we see absolutely no progress. Europe will defend its pork producers and in this respect has no choice anymore but to pursue this case at the WTO," as quoted by the statement.

The trade ban has left the EU’s farming sector open to significant losses, cutting off nearly 25% of EU exports, according to the statement. In 2013, EU exports to Russia reached EUR 1.4 billion.

The decision to turn to the WTO was purportedly motivated by a lack of progress in bilateral discussions between the parties.

African swine flu is lethal to pigs, but does not affect humans.

Russia acceded to the WTO in 2012. The WTO offers a dispute settlement mechanism in order to foster a speedy return to normal relations between parties in the event of a disagreement.