Russia Bans All U.S. Food, EU Fruit and Veg in Sanctions Response; NATO Fears Invasion
MOSCOW/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Russia will ban all imports of food from the United States and all fruit and vegetables from Europe, the state news agency reported on Wednesday, a sweeping response to Western sanctions imposed over its support for rebels in Ukraine.
The measures will hit consumers at home who rely on cheap imports, and on farmers in the West for whom Russia is a big market. Moscow is by far the biggest buyer of European fruit and vegetables and the second biggest importer of U.S. poultry.
RIA quoted the spokesman for Russia's food safety watchdog VPSS, Alexei Alexeenko, as saying all European fruit and vegetables and all produce from the United States would be included in a ban drawn up on the orders of President Vladimir Putin to punish countries that imposed sanctions on Russia.
Earlier, Alexeenko told Reuters bans on EU and U.S. goods would be "quite substantial", and would specifically include U.S. poultry, although he declined to give a full list of banned goods. He could not be reached again after the RIA report.
The war of economic sanctions has escalated even as fighting has intensified on the ground in eastern Ukraine in the three weeks since a Malaysian airliner was shot down over territory held by pro-Russian rebels.
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