European Union reserve the right to take action as appropriate over Russia’s sanctions – Sebastien Brabant

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The European Union says it reserves the right to take retaliatory action over Russia’s sanctions on imports of food and agricultural products from the 28-nation bloc.

“Following full assessment by the commission of the Russian Federation’s measures, we reserve the right to take action as appropriate,” EU spokesman Sebastien Brabant said on Thursday.

Russia announced the bans in response to the EU sanctions against Moscow due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Brabant said the European Union also expresses “regrets” over Russia’s “clearly politically motivated” decision.

“The Commission will assess the measures in question as soon as we have more information as to their full content and extent,” he added.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered government agencies to restrict agricultural imports from the European countries.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin’s executive decree “either bans or limits… the import into the Russian Federation of certain kinds of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from countries that have decided to adopt economic sanctions against Russian entities and (or) individuals.”

Moscow also halted imports of beef products from Romania and live animals from Bulgaria and parts of Greece and Italy. Russia banned Polish agricultural imports on health grounds last week.

According to reports, Russia annually buys over two billion Euros ($2.7 billion) worth of fruit and vegetables from the European Union.

The Western powers accuse Moscow of playing a role in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations to silence pro-Russia protests in April, but the Kremlin denies the accusation.