World / Europe

Russia to impose food embargo on Ukraine from 2016

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-22 10:10

Russia to impose food embargo on Ukraine from 2016

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk delivers a speech during a session of parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, December 17, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

MOSCOW - Moscow is about to toughen economic restrictions against Ukraine by banning food imports from the neighbor starting from next year, when Kiev's free trade regime with the European Union (EU) becomes effective.

The European Union (EU) decided on Monday to extend economic sanctions against Russia by another six months, which Russia's Foreign Ministry slammed as a move to sabotage the implementation of the peace-seeking Minsk agreement clinched earlier this year.

"Retaliatory economic measures will be applied to Ukraine on Jan 1, 2016, due to its accession to the anti-Russian sanctions applied by the EU and the United States," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday at a meeting with his deputies.

Medvedev has signed a government decision to impose a total ban on imports of agricultural products from Ukraine, which includes raw materials and foodstuffs.

Ukraine's exports to Russia stood at $10.7 billion in 2014, according to Russia's official customs data.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Russia's free trade deal with Ukraine beginning on Jan. 1, 2016.

Under the decree, Ukraine will no longer enjoy the most favored nation treatment under the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) free trade deal, as well as a host of preferential policies in areas of migration, customs, quarantine inspection, and investment.

In 2014, Ukraine and the EU signed an agreement to create a free trade zone between the two sides. Out of concerns from Moscow, the bloc decided to postpone the implementation of the agreement until Jan 1, 2016.

"We have repeatedly told the Ukrainian authorities that the implementation of the trade and economic agreement with the EU affects our interests and creates a risk of our economic security. There have been several rounds of negotiations, which produced no results," said Medvedev.

He also ordered the government to prepare for court proceedings aimed at recovering Ukraine's 3-billion-dollar debt to Russia, which matured on Sunday.

On Friday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenuk announced Ukraine has decided to impose a moratorium on repayments of its multi-billion-dollar debts to Russia.

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