Russia reacts to Western sanctions with food embargo

Aug 7, 2014

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Russia has imposed a "full embargo" on food products from the west in response to sanctions resulting from the crisis in Ukraine, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced.

The ban includes all agricultural products including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy imports from the US, EU, Canada, Australia and Norway. Baby food and alcohol are reportedly exempt.

The embargo is expected to come into effect immediately and will last for at least a year.

Russia has said it will either produce these items itself or import them from "friendlier" nations, according to the Economist.

Putin's government is also considering whether to ban European and American airlines from crossing Russian airspace en route to Asia. This ban has already been imposed on Ukrainian airlines and will "significantly" increase costs and flying times, the BBC reports.

Last month the EU and US tightened sanctions against Russia in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by targeting vital sectors of the Russian economy. The Kremlin called the sanctions "absolutely unacceptable" and warned of reprisals.

According to the Financial Times, Russia is Europe's largest importer of fruit and vegetables from the EU, spending €2 billion a year. Economists say the embargo could cause "significant damage" to producers.

But the consequences of the ban will be felt within Russia too, as up to 60 per cent of food in major cities in imported. Government officials and the country's central bank have warned that the sanctions could lead to a rise in interest rates and food prices.

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