Australia says it is planning to impose tougher sanctions on Russia after Moscow announced food bans that will affect Australian food makers.
“We are working towards stronger sanctions” against Russia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday.
Abbott also warned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to pull back Russian troops from the country’s border with Ukraine.
“I say to President Putin…: Hold your forces back. Stay behind the border….”
Also on Friday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop criticized Moscow and called the food bans “disappointing”.
Bishop also noted that the government will do all it can to minimize the impact of the sanctions.
Australia’s food exports to Russia were worth nearly $370 million (€276 million) last year.
On Thursday, Russia imposed year-long food bans on the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway in retaliation for their embargoes on Moscow.
The economic tit-for-tat followed a recent decision by the EU and US to tighten sanctions on Russia, with Brussels extending them from individuals to sectors of the Russian economy.
The sanctions also include an arms embargo and restricting sales of sensitive technology, as well as the export of equipment for Russia’s oil industry.
The Western powers accuse Moscow of playing a role in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations in April to silence pro-Russia protests, but the Kremlin denies the accusation.
Threats of sanctions intensified further after Malaysian flight MH17, heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was reportedly shot down over Ukraine’s volatile Donetsk region on July 17.
The Western powers also accuse pro-Russia forces of downing the civilian airliner. The pro-Russians deny any involvement in the tragedy.
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