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Russian lawmakers draft list of U.S. imports that could be banned

Russian lawmakers draft list of U.S. imports that could be banned

MOSCOW: Russia’s lower house of parliament is considering draft legislation that would give the Kremlin powers to ban or restrict a list of U.S. imports, reacting to new U.S. sanctions on a group of Russian tycoons and officials.

Senior lawmakers in the State Duma, which is dominated by Kremlin loyalists, said they had prepared the list ranging from food and alcohol to medicine and consulting services in response to Washington’s move last week.

The Kremlin itself has not said if it backs the draft legislation, which would allow the government to impose the measures should the need arise, and it was not clear if it would become law in its current form. The Russian parliament is often used to send assertive messages to foreign states, but these do not always translate into concrete measures.

The proposed measures are in retaliation for the White House’s imposition of the toughest set of sanctions on Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 that dragged relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Moscow reacted then with counter-sanctions banning a wide range of food imports from Western countries.

Russia imported $12.5 billion US worth of American products in 2017, according to official customs data. That included aircraft, machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical products.

The draft legislation would give authorities the power to impose bans or restrictions in multiple areas of trade with the United States if they deemed that Washington was threatening Russia’s interests.