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Associated Press
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with local officials in Voronezh, Russia, Tuesday.

Putin orders import limits over sanctions

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin has ordered government agencies to restrict imports of food and agricultural products from the countries that have imposed sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

The text of Putin’s decree released by the Kremlin on Wednesday says that such imports will be “banned or limited” for one year. The decree doesn’t name any specific countries or products, but contains an order to government agencies to spell them out.

The move follows the latest round of sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union last week, which for the first time targeted entire sectors of the Russian economy.

The U.S. and the EU have accused Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March, of fomenting tensions in eastern Ukraine by supplying arms and expertise to a pro-Moscow insurgency, and have imposed asset freezes and loan bans on a score of individuals and companies.

Russia depends heavily on imported foodstuffs – most of it from the West – particularly in the largest and most prosperous cities such as Moscow.

The order says the limits are being imposed “with the goal of guaranteeing the security of the Russian Federation” and calls for undertaking measures to guard against quick price hikes. Both those clauses appeared to indicate that the scope of the measures wouldn’t be wide.

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