WASHINGTON, August 7 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova - Russia's food embargo is a smart move on Moscow’s part that is set to show the United States and its allies that Russia is not going to give in to Western pressure, an American economist and co-director of a US-based research center told RIA Novosti Thursday.
"It is smart of Moscow to respond in kind to the sanctions, rather than downgrading diplomatic relations, since any deterioration in diplomatic relations would make the conflict more difficult to resolve," Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research said.
He stressed that the sanctions against Russia are almost certainly illegal under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and so Russia could pursue a case there as well.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday banning imports of agricultural and food products from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Moscow has banned beef, pork, poultry and dairy products, as well as fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway for one year.
"This ban sends a message to Washington and its allies that Russia is not going to surrender in this new Cold War, and that it can also hurt the other side's financial interests,” Weisbrot asserted.
"This is why the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturing, two of the biggest business lobby groups here, bought full page ads in major US newspapers opposing the ‘sanctions’," he suggested.
"Food prices in Russia could rise, but my guess is that the government will be careful to limit that," the expert said.
"It's probably not a bad idea though for Russia to become more food self-sufficient, since the US has embarked on a new Cold War, and Russia would not want to be too dependent on imports from the US and EU," he added.
The European Union, the United States and some other countries have imposed sanctions against Russian companies, banks, politicians, as well as the financial, energy and defense sectors of the Russian economy over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly called the measures counterproductive and stressed that Russia was never involved in the Ukrainian conflict.