Russia bans import of Ukrainian dairy products

MOSCOW - Russia has banned the import of Ukrainian dairy products, Russian news agencies reported Friday, amid a growing fallout in trade relations as Kiev ties itself closer to the EU.

"We held a meeting on milk and milk products and decided from July 28 to limit the import of such items," Alexei Alexeyenko, an advisor to the head of Russia's food and agricultural inspection service Rosselkhoznadzor, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

The ban was imposed due to the detection of tetracycline group antibiotics, Interfax cited a Rosselkhoznadzor source as saying.

"The decision has been made, we've informed our Ukrainian colleagues, in the coming hours the decision will be formalised," said the source.

Alexeyenko said it had gotten no response from Ukrainian food safety authorities to its recent requests to investigate incidents of high levels of antibiotics and bacteria in dairy products.

Russia has recently heaped pressure on Ukraine not to ratify a trade pact with the European Union, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday warning that Moscow may be "forced to take protective measures" upon Ukraine abandoning the customs union which links several ex-Soviet states.

Alexeyenko suggested earlier this week that all Ukrainian food imports could be halted.

On Thursday, Rosselkhoznadzor banned the import of all plant products from Ukraine in hand luggage or via the mail.

Earlier this month it banned the import of potatoes from Ukraine citing a pest outbreak.

Russia earlier this month banned meat and fruit imports from Moldova, another ex-Soviet state that also signed an EU Association Agreement.

Russia has frequently blocked food imports citing health concerns, sparking accusations from its partners of using trade as a political weapon.