MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian countermeasures were a reciprocal and honest response to the EU sanctions, because unfair competition from EU producers was unacceptable in light of the sanctions Brussels introduced, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"We imposed sanctions as a countermeasure over one simple thing. The European sanctions limit the ability of our banks to get loans to finance agriculture, which would mean agricultural producers from the European Union would have had an advantage and maintained an unfairly competitive position in the Russian market," Lavrov told the Austrian magazine Profil in an interview.
When asked under what conditions would Russia cancel its restrictive measures, the minister said that the question was not for him to answer.
"We did not initiate the sanctions, so it is not for us to lift them," Lavrov noted.
Since 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union and the United States have deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. Brussels, Washington and their allies introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia on the pretext of its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, which Moscow has repeatedly denied. In response to the restrictive measures, Russia imposed a food embargo on some products originating in countries that have targeted it with sanctions.