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Russia adds four new countries to food import ban list

August 13, 2015

Russia has extended the list of countries under a food import embargo to include Iceland, Montenegro, Albania and Liechtenstein. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Ukraine too might soon be added to the list.

Russland Vernichtung westliche Lebensmittel Sanktionen Importverbot
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Medvedev

Russia has added Iceland, a significant fish exporter, as well as Montenegro, Albania and Liechtenstein to a list of countries from which it has banned most food imports in retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.

Russia's counter-sanctions previously covered the United States, Canada, Norway, Australia and the 28 member states of the European Union. The ban includes meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables.

Medvedev added that Moscow would only ban certain food imports from Ukraine from 2016 if an economic association agreement between Kyiv and the European Union came into force.

Russia's Communist Party announced it had submitted a bill to parliament calling for smuggled Western food to be given to the needy instead of being destroyed, after authorities pulped hundreds of tons of cheese, vegetables and fruit in a campaign ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

"Russia is destroying food in front of the eyes of the world," the Communists said. "Hundreds of tons of food are being burnt in crematoriums or destroyed in other ways. But this destruction is an extreme, excessive measure," a note to the bill reads.

Contrary to expectations, the expanded list did not include Georgia. The former Soviet republic recently declined to support an extension of the Western sanctions against Moscow.

Russland Vernichtung westliche Lebensmittel Sanktionen Importverbot
Pork fat illegally imported from Poland is being destroyedImage: picture-alliance/dpa/V. Nevar

Scenes of imported peaches and nectarines being burnt or thrown on rubbish tips and cheese being crushed by a steamroller have angered many in a country where nearly 23 million people live below the poverty line.

The EU and other Western countries imposed sanctions against Russian firms and individuals last year in response to Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

dr/rc (AFP, Reuters)