Russia has essentially banned all food imports from the West. According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced via a televised Cabinet meeting that "all imports of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, milk, and milk products" from the U.S, as well as the European Union, Australia, Norway, and Canada are no longer allowed into the country. The ban will last for a year and is in retaliation to "sanctions over Ukraine." The AP points out that while the move will most likely cost farmers in these Western countries "billions of dollars," it will also likely lead to "empty shelves in Russian cities. Russia imported $15.8 billion in food from the EU in 2013 alone, and the U.S sent around $1.3 billion in food shipments last year.
Bloomberg writes that Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is aiming "to protect national interests" with this food ban. Putin is asking the government to "boost domestic supplies with the help of producers and retailers to avoid" drastic increases in food prices. The AP notes that Medvedev argued that the ban "would give Russian farmers… a good chance to increase their market share." The Russian government also claimed that it would "move quickly" to substitute imports from the West with food from countries like Turkey, Latin America, and former Soviet nations. Regardless, "imported food fills an estimated 60-70 percent" of the Russian market, and consumers there will mostly be hit with some serious inflation.
Ever since tensions began escalating between Russia and the U.S, Russia has threatened to ban various food imports from the U.S. and has attacked American fast food companies, perhaps to send a message to the West. Earlier this month, a Russian watchdog accused McDonald's of "serving food with poor quality" and filed a lawsuit in Moscow against the American fast food chain requesting it remove items like Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and cheeseburgers from the menu. Russia's food safety agency also announced that it would examine suppliers of McDonald's cheese for food safety reasons and that it may also place bans on poultry from the U.S. Earlier this week, a Russian watchdog agency also threatened to ban imports of bourbon from America.