Russian PM promises "symmetrical" response if EU tightens sanctions
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned EU officials an equivalent reply would inevitably follow if they decide to tighten sanctions against Russia, according to news agency RT.
“Our partners from the European Union will gather in July to discuss a number of decisions," Medvedev was quoted as saying.
"If they pass decisions concerning new sanctions against Russia we would give a symmetrical reply. If they don’t, we are going to remain on the positions that we currently have."
Earlier in the day, Medvedev’s deputy Arkady Dvorkovich reportedly said Moscow might lift the embargo on food items from certain foreign countries if the West lifted its economic sanctions against Russia.
“If sanctions are not lifted the embargo will not be lifted, surely we have no reasons to lift it," Dvorkovich was quoted as saying.
The official noted there might be selective adjustments but no radical decisions had been planned, according to RT.
Russia banned agricultural imports from the U.S., the EU countries, Australia, Canada and Norway in August last year, in response to sanctions they imposed on Russia due to its involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
The current restrictions are applied to meat, poultry and fish, cheese, milk, fruit and vegetables.
The embargo was introduced for one year with possible prolongation if the situation fails to improve.
Soon after they were introduced in August last year the nationalist party LDPR suggested extending the ban to food imports from nations that had an association agreement with the EU - including Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia - but this motion reportedly found no support in the Russian parliament.
The sanctions are biting Russia hard, with the BBC recently reporting the country's economy shrank by 2% in the first three months of 2015 - the first contraction since 2009. Weak oil prices have also contributed to the economic woes.
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