Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (photo: twitter)
Russia is introducing a full embargo on most food imports from the U.S, EU and other Western countries that have imposed sanctions against Moscow over its policy on Ukraine, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday.
"Russia is introducing a full embargo on import of beef, pork, fruit and vegetable produce, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, United States, Australia, Canada and Norway," Medvedev told a government meeting in televised remarks.
Russia has banned food items including meat products, milk and dairy, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The sanctions come after EU officials placed sanctions on Russia following the crisis in the Ukraine.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev further warned Thursday that Russia could block overflights between Europe and Asia in retaliation for Western sanctions.
Medvedev said that closing the use of Russian airspace, which saves Western airlines large amounts in fuel costs, was a "serious measure" being considered in response to sanctions that have shut down Russia's first low cost airline.
Medvedev also announced that Russia's airspace has been closes for transit flights of Ukrainian airlines.
"First is a ban on using the airspace of our country for transit flights by European and US airlines in the ... Asia-Pacific region," said Medvedev.
"Of course this is a severe measure. Nevertheless, we need to mention it," he added.
Medvedev repeated the threat as he ordered bans on major food products from the European Union and United States in response to their sanctions over Russian policy in Ukraine.
''Aeroflot's'' low-cost subsidiary ''Dobrolet'' which flew to Crimea, annexed by Russia in March, said at the weekend it was forced to ground all of its flights because of EU sanctions hitting its leases for ''Boeing'' aircraft.
The ban could hurt European airlines such as ''Lufthansa'', ''British Airways'', ''Air France'' and ''Finnair'' that operate many long-haul routes to Asia.
''Bank of America Merrill Lynch'' estimated earlier this week that using other longer routes could add around 30,000 U.S dollars (22,400 euros) per flight in higher fuel and operating costs.
It also noted that Russia's top airline Aeroflot, which receives the fees gathered from European airlines for the overflight rights, would be sent into a financial tailspin by such a ban. It estimated those fees bring in around 250 to 300 million U.S. dollars per year for ''Aeroflot'', or a third of the company's operating profit.