Tim Palmer Upmarket Russian vodka Stolichnaya Red could disappear from UK shelves in three weeks if a dispute over its ownership in Russia is not resolved. No new supplies are leaving Russia and UK distributor First Drinks Brands has already run short and is not sending out new deliveries. The brand has major listings with Waitrose, Safeway and Sainsbury and they only have a maximum of three week's stock left. Sainsbury spirits buyer Simon Dunn confirmed that estimate and said: "We are watching the situation with interest. It can't be in their interests to create a worldwide problem because then the whole business will suffer." The problem revolves around the ownership of the brand. First Drinks brand manager Jon Evans said: "The Russians privatised it in 1982 and sold it to Sojuzplodimport (SPI). It then became a global success and the Russian government has tried to renationalise and take back ownership of the trademark. "It has now put more pressure on SPI by withholding permission for Stolichnaya destined for world markets to clear customs." Evans added: "We don't hold much stock in the UK because we have an efficient supply chain system, but this has not worked to our advantage in this case." He said the brand's volume sales grew at 35% a year during the past three years and last year sold 45,000 nine-litre cases. "It would be a shame to damage the brand's long term potential," he said. Stolichnaya Blue and other variants of the brand are unaffected because they are slower sellers and First Drinks has sufficient stocks in the UK. {{DRINKS }}