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Friday, 8 August 2014

Russia bans food imports from U.S., E.U.

Washington Post 

Russia on Thursday banned most imports of Western food products, a sweeping escalation in an economic war that will deal a multibillion-dollar hit to affected nations but will also unreel wide-ranging consequences at home.

The measures were a signal that Russia is not backing down from a confrontation that has sent Western-Russian tensions to heights not seen since the Cold War — and that it is willing to risk barer shelves and higher food prices at home in the name of striking a blow against countries that have tried to punish it for its alleged support of a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Russia suspended imports of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and milk products from the United States, the 28-nation European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia for a period of a year. The move came in retaliation for sanctions those countries issued over the conflict in Ukraine, where Russia is accused of sending weaponry and other support to rebels. Russia has denied the charges.

Western officials also have accused Moscow of massing troops along the Ukraine-Russia border in a formation that appears designed for an invasion.

In another move with Cold War echoes, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also said Thursday that Russia was considering banning U.S. and European airlines from flying over Russian airspace in transit to Asia. That could increase travel times and costs and would be a step back to an era when Western planes were enjoined from flying over the Soviet Union.

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