Russia to prolong Western food embargo: government

22nd June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Moscow prepared Monday to prolong its embargo on Western food imports, expressing disappointment at the extension by the EU of sanctions which it blamed on a "Russophobic lobby."

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tasked one of his deputies with helping put together a formal appeal to President Vladimir Putin to prolong Russian sanctions against the West.

In comments released by the government, Medvedev said he would formally ask Putin to extend the embargo on Western food imports as well as sanctions targeting certain foreign trade transactions.

He did not elaborate.

EU foreign ministers formally agreed Monday to prolong damaging economic sanctions against Russia until January 2016, to ensure it fully implements Ukraine peace accords.

The Russian foreign ministry expressed disappointment at the extension, blaming the move on an anti-Russian "lobby".

"We are deeply disappointed that the opinion of the Russophobic lobby, which pushed through the decision to prolong illegal restrictions, once again dominated in the EU," the ministry said in a statement.

Moscow claimed the decision would be "guaranteed to cause hundreds of thousands of Europeans to lose their jobs."

The ministry said it was "absurd" for the EU to "place all responsibility" for the implementation of the peace agreements on Moscow.

Russia also described as "cynical" the fact that the decision to extend the punitive measures was announced on June 22, which happens to be the day that Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941.

Putin's spokesman for his part reiterated that the anti-Russian sanctions were "unjustified (and) illegal."

Brussels hit Russia's banking, oil and defence sectors hard and, along with the United States, has warned more sanctions could follow unless Moscow lives up to its February commitments to withdraw support for the rebels and use its influence with them to implement the peace deal for Ukraine.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev has killed over 6,500 people over the past 15 months. Moscow denies sending troops to Ukraine and says any Russians fighting there are volunteers.

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© 2015 AFP

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