MOSCOW/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Moscow banned imports of most food from the West on Thursday in retaliation against sanctions over Ukraine, a stronger than expected measure that isolates Russian consumers from world trade to a degree unseen since Soviet days.
In eastern Ukraine, the Russian citizen who has led the rebel “Donetsk People’s Republic” stepped down in favour of a local man, a move that could provide some faint new hope for peace. Kiev has long said it could negotiate with locals but never with foreigners it considers international terrorists.
A Dutch recovery team called off its work at the site where a Malaysian airliner was shot down over rebel-held territory last month, saying escalating fighting had made the frontline location too dangerous.
NATO’s secretary general, visiting Kiev in a show of support for Ukraine, called on Russia to pull back from the brink of war against its neighbour. The Western military alliance says Moscow has massed troops on the border in preparation for a possible ground invasion.
Moscow imposed a one year ban on all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the 28 European Union countries, Canada, Australia and non-EU member Norway.