Kiev passes Russia trade sanctions, says will only be used in response to embargo

A general view shows the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers building © Vasily Fedosenko
The Ukrainian Cabinet on Wednesday passed trade restrictions in response to Moscow cancelling a free trade agreement with Ukraine.

“The counter-sanctions will be introduced if Russia imposes its trade embargo,” Natalya Mikolskaya, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Economy and Trade told journalists.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law suspending free trade with Ukraine as of January 1, 2016.

Ukraine is ready to abandon trade sanctions against Russia should in Moscow lift the food embargo against Kiev and keeps the free trade zone agreement, said Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk this week. Yatsenyuk has said if Moscow imposes a trade embargo, Kiev will be prepared to impose “counter measures.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Economy and Trade has already issued a list of food products the import of which from Russia will be banned as of January 10, 2016. The list includes bakery products, pastries, chocolates, meat, fish, coffee, black tea, cigarettes, beer, and other products.

In mid-December President Putin signed a decree to suspend the free trade treaty with Ukraine, starting from January 1, 2016. He said Kiev’s move to open its borders to the EU compromises Russian interests and economic security. Moscow is also concerned that without such a barrier, Ukraine could illegally supply embargoed European goods to Russia.

READ MORE: EU urges Russia not to impose food embargo on Ukraine 

Currently, Russia and Ukraine are trading in accordance with the free trade agreement between CIS countries. However, starting next year the economic part of Kiev's Association Agreement with the EU comes into force adding Ukraine to the European trading bloc.