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Ukraine to impose tit-for-tat trade embargo on Russia

Ukraine has responded to Moscow’s food embargo with “mirror sanctions” of its own. Effective from January 1, Kyiv will impose restrictions on Russian products entering the country.

Ukraine's parliament voted Thursday to give the government powers to impose a trade embargo against Russia, which would suspend a free trade zone with Ukraine from the beginning of next month.

“The cabinet of ministers will introduce similar restrictive measures against the Russian Federation. We will protect Ukraine's domestic market,” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced Thursday.

Kyiv's decision to suspend trade is a counter-move to Moscow's announcement Monday for a food embargo against Ukraine, which is to begin January 1. Moscow says Ukraine's free trade pact with Brussels, which comes into force next month, could lead to a flood of European imports into Russia, making its exports to Ukraine less competitive.

The law, supported by 291 of parliament's 420 lawmakers, comes into effect when it is signed by the president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered trade with its neighbors to be suspended in a decree which cited “extraordinary circumstances affecting the interests and economic security” of Russia.

Following the announcement, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said he regretted Russia's decision to end preferential trade with Kyiv, but was “ready to pay the price” for the EU trade accord.

Ukraine estimates the trade war with Moscow could cost upwards of $600 million (548.6 million euros) next year or about 0.6 percent of its trade turnover.

The EU-Ukraine trade deal was the initial trigger for unrest that culminated in the ousting of former Russia-allied President Victor Yanukovych in 2014. Russia then annexed Crimea and backed a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine.

jlw/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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