KIEV, Dec. 24 - Ukraine is responding to Moscow's food embargo with "mirror sanctions" of its own that will take effect on January 1, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk announced Thursday, AFP reported.
"The cabinet of ministers will introduce similar restrictive measures against the Russian Federation. We will protect Ukraine's domestic market," Yatseniuk said in a speech in parliament.
A bill giving the government the right to impose trade sanctions against Russia was backed by lawmakers Thursday with 291 deputies in favor.
It is a counter-move to Moscow's announcement Monday of a food embargo against Ukraine starting next month over Kiev's trade deal with the EU. The Moscow embargo will extend to Ukraine punitive measures already in place against Western countries.
A free trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union is set to go into effect January 1 as part of a broader agreement that helped spark the current crisis between Kiev and the West on one side, and Moscow on the other.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern that Ukraine's free trade agreement with Brussels may flood its market with European goods, and months of three-way talks with the EU to smooth the transition have yielded no results.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that the measures aimed against Ukrainian food imports will be similar to those aimed again Western countries that had been announced last year.
"These measures will be extended to Ukraine too," Medvedev said at a government meeting. "I have just signed the relevant decree.”
President Vladimir Putin last week ordered a suspension of Russia's 2011 free trade agreement with Ukraine.
The move will effectively raise customs tariffs for Ukrainian exporters to Russia by seven percent.
"We must protect our market and our producers and to prevent import of products masked as Ukrainian that are from other countries," Medvedev said.
"There have been several rounds of talks. They did not bring any result," he added.
"Neither Ukraine nor the European Union are ready to sign a legally binding agreement which would take into account Russia's interests."
Moscow's slapped a ban on a large array of agricultural produce from the EU and other nations including the United States in 2014 in retaliation for Western sanction against Russia over its meddling in Ukraine.
Medvedev's announcement came as European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom was engaged in the latest attempt to reach common ground on the issue with Russia's Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Brussels. (afp/ez)