Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has dented EU hopes of an end to hard times for many farmers by saying Russia plans to extend its embargo on Western food products by a year and a half.
“I have ordered proposals to be drawn up to extend the retaliatory measures not by a year, but until the end of 2017,” Medvedev said in comments released by the government.
His proposals would have to be approved by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Since August 2014, Moscow has banned most food imports from Western countries, particularly from the EU, after the EU imposed sanctions on Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in east Ukraine.
Russia extended the sanctions by a year last August, banning fruit and veg, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports, which have been partly responsible for loss-making prices in some EU farm sectors, notably pigs and dairy.
Displaced western exports to Russia have largely been replaced by EU exports to other markets, such as China. However, these new destinations are often lower-value.
The Russian embargo was due to expire in three months.
Medvedev’s warning came as EU countries prepare to debate whether to extend sanctions affecting Russia’s banks and energy and defence industries, that expire in July.
So far, the EU has extended these sanctions every six months.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said she expects the EU to extend its sanctions once again.
But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned that that resistance is growing within the EU to extending the sanctions, for which a unanimous vote of support is required.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that the EU won’t change its position on anti-Russian sanctions in the near future.
He will meet Putin at an economic forum in St. Petersburg on June 16, ahead of a decision.
On June 24, 2015, Putin signed a decree on extension of food embargo until August 5 of 2016.
The World Trade Organisation has sided with the EU in its claims the Russian embargo is disproportionate and violates trade rules.
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