Russia bans food imports from Canada

by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

OTTAWA, Ontario—Russia is responding to fresh sanctions from Canada, the US and other countries with a ban on food imports for a year.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the ban covers meat, fish, milk and milk products and fruit and vegetables from Canada, the U.S., the European Union, Australia and Norway.

The move announced Thursday was taken on orders from President Vladimir Putin in response to sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine.

Canada on Wednesday slapped new sanctions and travel bans on several top Russian and Ukrainian politicians and groups with ties to Putin’s government.

Canada’s latest sanctions, imposed in co-ordination with the U.S. and the EU, came amid reports Russia is massing thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border. Putin then ordering authorities to draft a list of agricultural products from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia.

Medvedev said Russia is also considering banning Western carriers from flying over Russia on flights to and from Asia _ a move that would significantly swell costs and increase flight time. He said a decision on that hasn’t been made yet.

Russia may also introduce restrictions regarding imports of planes, navy vessels and cars, Medvedev said, but added that the government will realistically assess its own production potential.

Russia’s food ban will mostly affect Canada’s pork industry. Canada’s agricultural exports to Russia amounted to $563 million in 2012, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and most of them were frozen pork.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has frequently said Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and provocative military activity in eastern Ukraine is a “grave concern” to Canada and the world.

Harper said Canada is prepared to take further actions if Putin’s government continues its military aggression.

–With files from The Associated Press