MOSCOW, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Russia will begin a food embargo against Ukraine beginning in the new year, the Russian economic minister announced.
The move to ban Ukrainian goods, largely agricultural products, from entering Russia comes despite attempts by the European Union to forestall such an action. Russia had previously said it was considering tariffs, and not an embargo, against Ukraine, which will leave the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States' free trade zone to participate in the EU's tariff-free market, beginning Jan. 1.
"Since Ukraine joined anti-Russia sanctions -- economic, financial -- we've decided to impose ... protective measures in the form of [a] food embargo," Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev told Rossiya-24 TV news channel Wednesday, as quoted by the Russian news agency Tass.
"We'll have to protect our market on a unilateral basis from unattended access of goods through Ukraine's customs territory, those being goods from third countries, first of all from the states of the European Union," Ulyukayev added.
Estimates from the loss of business in the Russian market suggest Ukraine could lose more than $200 million in business. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has said his country's economy has prepared for a Russian embargo, acknowledging that with Ukraine's economic shift to the West, some sanctions from Russia were inevitable.
In August 2014, Russia banned the imports of certain food items from EU countries, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia, all of which imposed sanctions on Russia over its incursions into Crimea and Ukraine.
Russia raised eyebrows in August when it used a bulldozer to destroy hundreds of pounds of banned food imported from Western countries. The pile of food included pork, tomatoes, peaches and cheese.