Moscow prepares to extend food ban in response to EU sanctions

Moscow prepares to extend food ban in response to EU sanctions
The Russian government wants to prolong countermeasures on the European Union for another 18 months, said Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. His statement comes a day after the EU extended its anti-Russia economic sanctions.

"Of course, we will react adequately. Yesterday we discussed this issue with President Vladimir Putin and the government will submit a proposal to extend the ban for another year - until December 31, 2018,” Medvedev said on Thursday during a cabinet meeting.

He expressed regret that "European partners continue this not very constructive line” toward Russia.

On Wednesday, the European Union prolonged economic sanctions against Russia by six months. Restrictions on business with Russian energy, defense, and financial sectors will remain until January 31, 2018.

The sanctions were first introduced over the crisis in Ukraine and the Crimea reunification in 2014. They include an arms export ban, limited access to finance for Russian banks, and travel bans for over 150 individuals. Many measures, specifically, prohibit financial interactions with Crimea.

In response, the Kremlin imposed an embargo on EU agricultural produce, food and raw materials. Since then the sides have repeatedly broadened and extended the restrictive measures.

Moscow has warned it would only lift the ban if the EU rolls back the sanctions.

According to Medvedev, the extension of countermeasures will help Russian farmers and stimulate domestic production.

"We support the Russian agriculture sector by introducing response measures. The farmers repeatedly asked us to extend the food embargo," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the embargo on certain Western food products was good for Russia’s economy and should last "as long as possible."