Russia in US, Euro food ban

Putting on the squeeze: Vladimir Putin (front) and Dmitry Medvedev unveil import bans

Russia has banned the import of virtually all foodstuffs from the US and European Union in retaliation to sanctions imposed against it over instability in Ukraine.

The administration of President Vladimir Putin is also considering closing Russian airspace to flights from the US and Europe to Asia, while major oil-producing neighbour Norway is likewise affected by the sweeping new measures from the Kremlin.

Putin on Wednesday signed a decree paving the way for retaliatory economic measures against the US and EU, which have themselves recently stepped up sanctions against Russian institutions, companies and people following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

That decree called for the prohibition or limiting of imports of certain agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from sanctioning jurisdictions is prohibited or limited.

On Thursday, however, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said a “full embargo” on food imports from the US, EU, Norway, Australia and Canada was being put in place immediately. Baby food imports are, however, unaffected.

Measures are being put in place to boost domestic food production, while Russia may turn to the likes of Turkey, China and South America for alternative import markets.

Medvedev also said Russia has closed its airspace to Ukrainian airlines and may do the same for flights from the US and EU to Asia. Such a move would significantly boosts costs for carriers on those routes.

Washington DC and Brussels significantly stepped up sanctioning measures against Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

The most recent sanctions from the EU, imposed last week, targetted the Arctic and shale gas exploration and production spheres in Russia.

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