Putin bans imports from nations imposing sanctions on Russia

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday banned or limited food and agricultural product imports for a year from nations that have imposed sanctions on Russia over its stance on Ukraine.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin’s executive decree “either bans or limits… the import into the Russian Federation of certain kinds of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from countries that have decided to adopt economic sanctions against Russian entities and individuals.”

Government spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that ministers were currently drafting the list of goods intended for future import restriction.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexei Likhachyov separately told the Interfax news agency that his draft of the list was already completed.

State statistics show Russia having imported about a third of its food from abroad in the past decade. Some of those deliveries come from ex-Soviet nations with strong ties to Moscow.

Russia has already halted some food imports from a range of European countries and has threatened to limit the amount of chicken products it buys from the United States.

But Moscow had previously denied that the measures were in any way linked to punishing new financial restrictions imposed by EU nations and the United States on top state companies and officials with close links to Putin.

The punitive steps forbid companies in Europe and the United States from striking future deals in Russia’s vital oil and arms sectors.

Top state-held firms have seen their access to Western borrowing markets severely restricted and face a possible freeze on trade of their shares on both European and New York exchanges.

Moscow’s Vedomosti business daily said the Russian government was considering whether to strike back at the European Union by placing a total or partial ban on its airlines’ flights over Siberia to Asia.

The Western sanctions are expected to send Russia’s fragile economy to the brink of a recession by the end of the year.

But they have thus far failed to soften Putin’s approach to Ukraine or forced him to call on the pro-Kremlin insurgents fighting the Kiev government from laying down their arms.

NATO this week said Russia had boosted its military presence along its western neighbour’s border to 20,000 from 12,000. 

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