Russia, as expected, didn’t just take sitting down the prolonged sanctions it received from the European Union over its alleged participation in the Ukraine conflict. On Thursday, it counter-retaliated with an announcement of a prolonged ban on food imported from the West, including Australia.
Russian president Vladimir Putin told a government meeting that the extension of the retaliatory measures takes effect immediately, “beginning from today,” noting he had signed the necessary order. He added that he thinks the counter-slap will be good for Russia’s domestic agricultural producers.
The food ban covers imports of beef, pork, fish, cheese, vegetables, fruit, milk and dairy products. The first ban was introduced in August. Apart from Australia, other affected countries include the United States, Canada, Norway and those from the EU.
Alexander Tkachev, Russia’s agriculture minister, said the list of banned imports may likewise get expanded to include flowers, confectionery and canned fish. He said contrary to expectations, the economic sanctions the EU slapped on Russia – which it also expected to damage the country – had given the opposite results. Tkachev said instead of dampening the nation, the sanctions became “a balm to our souls” because it gave the local food industry a boost.
“We are seeing more Russian-made foods on the shelves of our stores,” he said in televised remarks. “Russia has this chance, has this unique opportunity.”
Talking to Press TV, Joaquin Flores, with the Center for Syncretic Studies from Belgrade, cautioned the U.S. and the EU of more damaging consequences of their extended sanctions. He said farmers and growers have been greatly affected from the first wave of sanctions. He stressed it is important for the U.S. to realize the sanctions are important to the EU because it resulted to “a very bad political consequence.”
Russia, reacting to the extension slapped by the EU on June 22, said the move “guaranteed to cause hundreds of thousands of Europeans to lose their jobs.”