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Russia bans Western food in retaliation

By Agencies in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-08 08:18

Moscow imposed a total ban on imports of many Western foods on Thursday in retaliation for sanctions imposed on it related to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, a Dutch recovery team called off its work at the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held territory last month, saying the front-line location had become too dangerous.

Russian share prices fell after the announcement of Moscow's one-year ban on all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the 28 European Union countries, Canada, Australia and non-EU member Norway.

Russia bought $43 billion worth of food last year. It has become by far the biggest consumer of EU fruit and vegetables, the second-biggest buyer of US poultry, and a major consumer of fish, meat and dairy.

President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to adopt the measures to retaliate against Western countries that imposed sanctions on Russia's defense, oil and financial sectors over its support for rebels in an insurrection in east Ukraine.

He had promised to ensure that the measures would not hurt Russian consumers, which suggested he might exclude some popular products.

But in the end, the bans announced by his prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, mentioned no exceptions.

"Until the last moment, we hoped that our foreign colleagues would understand that sanctions lead to a deadlock, and no one needs them," Medvedev said.

"But they didn't, and the situation now requires us to take retaliatory measures."

Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said the measures would cause a short-term spike in inflation, but said he did not see a danger in the medium or long term.

He said Russia will compensate with more imports of products from other suppliers, such as Brazil for meat and New Zealand for cheese.

The EU's executive commission said it reserved the right to take action to retaliate against the Russian ban.

Reuters - AP

(China Daily 08/08/2014 page12)

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