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Russia Lashes Out At U.S. Sanctions By Banning All American Agricultural Imports

Food fight.

Updated — 3:44 p.m. ET

The Kremlin on Wednesday announced a ban on certain foods, agricultural products, and raw materials from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia over the country’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis. A Russian official later clarified that the ban will include all agricultural imports from the U.S., the AP reported.

The ban — called “Decree on the Application of certain special economic measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation” — is vaguely worded, and tasks the government with compiling a specific list of imports to ban. The full list is expected to be released Thursday and to include bans on vegetables, meats, and fruits, but not baby food and wine, the Russian newspaper Vedemosti reported. The U.S., Europe, Australia, Canada, and Japan have all imposed differing degrees of economic and political sanctions in response to Russia’s involvement in fueling the separatist conflict in Ukraine.

Russia has often used food as a weapon in the past and Putin had hinted that such a ban was in the works. Russian health and consumer watchdog agencies have recently accused a slew of U.S., Ukrainian, and European companies of exporting to Russia food and agricultural products with harmful levels of contaminants and bacteria. After making a public fuss, Russia started to take action. First came the ban on Ukrainian dairies, Moldavian fruit, Australian beef, and Lithuanian and Latvian pork. Then Putin came for the Polish apples.

Now everyone is trying to figure out what Russia’s latest ban could mean. No French cheese? Japanese fish for sushi? And what about the ubiquitous super-sized McDonald’s happy meal?

Russia is the EU’s largest export market for fruit and vegetables, and the second-largest for U.S. poultry, the Financial Times reported.

In July, Russian authorities filed a suit against McDonald’s, alleging that the chain had violated Russia’s nutritional and safety codes with allegedly contaminated burgers and milkshakes, the New York Times reported. McDonald’s shut down its three branches in Crimea after Russia annexed the peninsula in March.

The last major food fight between Russia and the U.S. came in 2010, when Russia for a while banned chicken that had come to be known as “Bush Legs” — because they appeared after the fall of the Soviet Union, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

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