WRAPUP 3-Moscow bans Western food imports; Russian quits as Ukraine rebel chief

Thu Aug 7, 2014 2:04pm EDT
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* Russia bans all meat, fish, poultry, dairy, fruit and veg from US, EU, Canada, Australia, Norway

* Move affects imports worth $9.2 billion last year

* NATO calls for Moscow to pull back from brink of war with neighbour

By Polina Devitt and Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW/DONETSK, Ukraine, Aug 7 (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.   Continued...