The Russian government announced a ban on food imports from Canada, the United States, the European Union, Australia and Norway this week. The declaration follows increasing sanctions imposed on Russia by these countries.
“In the wake of continued aggression by Russia, which includes the ongoing supply of logistical support and weapons systems to agents of the Putin regime in eastern Ukraine, Canada is announcing its intent to once again increase economic and political pressure, in the coming days, by imposing additional sanctions on the regime and those closest to it,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper on July 29 in Ottawa.
Canada has continued to increase travel and economic sanctions to Russia, with the latest announcement occurring just before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced agricultural bans on Wednesday.
“President Putin’s failure to end his support to armed rebel groups constitutes a very real threat to international peace and security,” Harper said. “His actions represent an overt, direct threat to the Ukrainian people and its rightfully elected government.”
Canada’s sanctions against Russia include a travel ban which lists military units, militia, security and defense officials and leaders of pro-Russian groups in Ukraine. Canada has also announced sanctions against numerous Russian banks.
“For a long time, Russia has not responded to the so-called sanctions declared against it by certain countries,” said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at a government meeting today. “Until the last moment, we hoped that our foreign colleagues would realise that sanctions lead to a blind alley, and that no one benefits from them. But they didn’t realise this, and now we have been forced to respond.”
And respond, it has. The aforementioned retaliation will be a complete ban, effective immediately, on the import of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway. The ban could last as long as a year, though the Russian government is likely to revisit it, particularly if the targeted countries “display a constructive approach towards cooperation issues.”
Medvedev said the ban will allow Russian producers the opportunity to sell more of their commodities within the country.
In 2012 exports of agri-food products from Canada to Russia were worth over $563M, with pork-related commodities accounting for the majority of these exports.