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EU reserves right to "action" after Russia sanctions

The European Union's executive warned on Thursday (Aug 7) it was ready "to take action" over Russia's decision to restrict imports of EU food and agricultural products.

BRUSSELS: The European Union's executive warned on Thursday (Aug 7) it was ready "to take action" over Russia's decision to restrict imports of EU food and agricultural products.

"This announcement is clearly politically motivated," the European Commission said in a statement. "Following full assessment by the Commission of the Russian Federation's measures, we reserve the right to take action as appropriate."

The response followed Moscow's announcement of a "full embargo" against food imports from EU nations as well as other Western countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia over its policy in Ukraine. Exports of food and farm products from EU nations to Russia last year amounted to 11.8 billion euros (S$19.7 billion), or 10 percent of the bloc's total agricultural exports.

"Russia is introducing a full embargo on imports of beef, pork, fruit and vegetable produce, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, United States, Australia, Canada and Norway," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

A Commission spokesman refused to give further details on what action the EU might consider. "The Commission will assess the measures in question as soon as we have more information as to their full content and extent," the statement said.

"We underline that the European Union's restrictive measures are directly linked with the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Ukraine. The European Union remains committed to de-escalating the situation in Ukraine."