* Russia's AgMin says some deficit is possible, but not
* Says Russia would be able to find alternative food
* U.S. and Europe to discuss further sanctions on Friday
KHABAROVSK, Russia, April 25 As Washington and
its European allies discuss extending sanctions against Moscow
for its actions in Ukraine, Russia's Agriculture Minister told
reporters on Friday that higher food imports from other
countries would make up for any EU cuts.
Russia's annexation of Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in
March resulted in limited sanctions, mostly targeting
individuals, but U.S. President Barack Obama will call leaders
in the European Union later on Friday to urge more costly
measures if Moscow does not rein in armed pro-Russian rebels who
have seized government buildings in the east of Ukraine or if
its troops make further incursions.
Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said Russia did not
expect a big deficit in any sector in the event of sanctions and
there was a queue of countries ready to raise supplies if
"We always have had alternative countries ... which could
quickly start supplies of products, a possible deficit of which
we expect to appear," Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said
when asked about a possible decrease in supplies from the EU.
Russia, the world's largest country, imports food products
worth more than $40 billion a year to feed its population of
more than 140 million people.
"(They) say: we heard (that) limits are possible. Can you
send an inspection to us, please?
Fyodorov said suppliers were telling him: "We would like to
be the first to supply products as an alternative to Poland or
Lithuania or some other country."
And despite Washington's stance, he said U.S. meat producers
were keen to sell to Russia, which recently limited most meat
imports from the United States and Australia due to the use of a
productivity stimulant, and from the European union due to an
outbreak of African Swine Fever.
He also said current weather was favourable for the country
to achieve a grain harvest of between 95 million and 97 million
tonnes in 2014 in order to secure no less than 20 million tonnes
for export during the 2014/15 marketing year.
(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing
by Will Waterman)