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Putin signs decree extending ban on Western food imports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (photo by AFP)

Russia has renewed retaliatory sanctions against the European Union after the bloc extended bans against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday, extending the counter-sanctions until the end of 2018.

The decree extends a ban on Western food imports for another 18 months.

On Wednesday, the EU formally extended its economic sanctions against Russia, which were imposed in July 2014 after the Crimea region separated from Ukraine and rejoined Russia after holding a referendum on the issue.

In a related move, Russia on Friday said it was suspending its contributions to the Council of Europe for 2017.

The suspension comes after a lengthy dispute regarding delegates from the country who were stripped of authority after Crimea's reunification.

The Kremlin said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had informed the Council of Europe's Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland of the decision in a phone conversation.

The West claims Moscow is meddling in the internal affairs of Ukraine and describes Crimea’s reunification with Russia as “Russian occupation” of Crimea.

Moscow denies meddling in Ukraine and says it would end the embargo once the Western sanctions are lifted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (3rd R) visits the Artek international children centre in Gurzuf, some 15 kms outside Yalta, Crimea, June 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The latest decree signed by Putin and posted in the official government database states that the embargo on produce, dairy, meat and most other foods will now stretch to December 31, 2018.

In August 2014, Moscow banned most food imports from the European Union, the United States and other countries that had imposed sanctions over the reunification of Crimea and support for east Ukraine's pro-Moscow fighters.

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