Russia will ban all imports of U.S. food products as well as fruit and vegetables from the European Union after President Vladimir Putin ordered retaliation for Western sanctions against Moscow, a state news agency reported Wednesday. With Russia a major buyer of food from the United States and Europe, the ban marks a deep escalation of an economic tit-for-tat set off by the crisis in Ukraine, which has brought East-West relations to their lowest since the Cold War. Putin on Wednesday ordered his government to come up with a list of imports to be banned for a year. "(All food products) that are being produced in the U.S. and being supplied to Russia will be banned," Ria Novosti quoted Alexei Alekseenko, spokesman for the VPSS food standards agency, as saying. Russians are by far the biggest buyers of EU fruit and vegetables, buying 21.5 percent of EU vegetable exports and 28 percent of the bloc's fruit exports in 2011. They also have a strong appetite for U.S. chicken, buying 8 percent of U.S. exports last year.
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