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Ukraine imposes tit for tat ban on Russian food imports

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk

The Ukrainian government has agreed to impose a ban on Russian food imports in response to a similar move by Moscow.

The ban is expected to come into force on January 10, according to a decree signed by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The decree says that the embargo will stay in place “until the cancelation of the ban on imports of agricultural products, food, and raw materials produced in Ukraine into the customs territory of the Russian Federation.”

The ban includes Russian imports such as beef, fruit, vegetables, and chocolate.

A Russian man purchases fruit at a food market in Moscow, Russia, on December 2, 2015. (AP photo)

This came just days after Russia closed its borders to a number of Ukrainian goods, including meat, fish, dairy, and vegetable products, on New Year’s day, as part of a response to Kiev’s decision to implement a free trade pact with the European Union (EU).

The pact, which is part of a wide-ranging Association Agreement with the EU, aims to see the lifting of import tariffs by Ukraine and Europe to create a single free trade zone.

The agreement, which was endorsed by Ukraine in September 2014, was met with strong opposition from Russia. Moscow says it imposed the ban on Ukrainian food in order to protect its own internal markets.

Russian officials say the ban on Ukrainian goods, which lasts until August this year, are also in retaliation for Kiev’s support for Western economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged role in the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine.

In a tit for tat move against the sanctions, Moscow later imposed its own ban on Western imports.

Western powers have accused Moscow of being involved in the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian army, an accusations Russia has denied.

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