UPDATE 1-Belarus to ban some Western food imports in retaliatory move

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MOSCOW, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The Belarusian government said on Tuesday it would ban some food imports from Western countries starting next year to retaliate against the sanctions imposed against it.

The ban, which will come into force on Jan. 1 and last six months, covers beef, pork, some vegetables, dairy, fruit and nuts from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Britain, Norway and some other countries, the government said.

Belarus imported food products worth $530 million in the first 10 months of 2021, the Minsk government said. It did not specify what portion of these imports would be banned but said that it could expand the list of banned food imports in the event of additional Western sanctions.

The United States and its allies, including the EU, last week imposed sanctions against dozens of individuals and entities in Belarus to escalate punitive action against President Alexander Lukashenko and his government.

The European Union has accused Belarus of flying in thousands of migrants from the Middle East and pushing them to cross into the bloc in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed over Lukashenko’s crushing of protests against his disputed re-election last year. Belarus has denied the accusations. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich)