Putin extends ban on imports of Western food through 2017

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin has extended Russia’s ban on imports of Western food until the end of 2017.

Wednesday’s decree comes as the European Union is preparing to extend a set of sanctions against Russia for another six months. Russia’s pre-emptive move reflects its irritation about the EU’s reluctance to lift the penalties.

The EU has followed Washington in slapping Russia with sanctions after its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions have cut Russia’s access to global financial markets and blocked the transfer of key technologies.

Russia has retaliated by banning most Western food imports, badly hurting many EU nations.

Washington and Brussels tied the prospect of lifting the sanctions to a 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine, which has all but stalled.