Many believe that the ban was due to the finding of a beetle from a tea consignment sent by Sri Lanka. But, the main reason was the spy by the name Manokin Fardov, whom the US had demanded from Sri Lanka. Russia too, wanted him. Lanka News Web reported this under the title ‘Sri Lanka caught up in US-Russia diplomatic crisis’.
The man Manokin was reportedly used by Russia as a cyber criminal at the US presidential election. Therefore, the US badly wanted him, and had obtained a red warrant for his arrest. Sri Lanka arrested him, but did not hand him over to the US.
In the meantime, Russia imposed a ban on tea imports. The government watchfully removed the asbestos ban. Russia is the main seller of asbestos to Sri Lanka. That did not work. In the end, a top government figure mediated to send Manokin back to Russia. That has been confirmed by immigration and emigration officials. The ban was lifted once he reached Russia. Through its ban, Russia got its spy back and also saw to it that the asbestos ban was removed.
The US is very angry with Sri Lanka over this. The US ambassador in Sri Lanka has strongly criticized president Maithripala Sirisena and law and order minister Sagala Ratnayake.