Russia may extend counter-sanctions until end-2017: PM

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech during the finance ministry's expanded board meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered his ministers to draft proposals to extend Moscow’s food import ban until the end of 2017.

“I assigned (government) to prepare a proposal to extend counter-sanction measures not for one year, but until the end of 2017. A petition to the President will be prepared”, he said in a meeting with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

The extension of the ban would allow Russian agricultural producers to make long-terms investments, he added.

Russia banned wholesale imports of fresh food products from many Western countries in 2014 in retaliation for sanctions over its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. In 2015, Russia extended those sanctions on Turkey.

Moscow has said that the counter-sanctions will prop up Russian agriculture firms and help them to meet the needs of Russian consumers without European supplies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday at the Group of Seven meeting in Japan that it was too early to talk about lifting the sanctions on Russia.

Reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Maria Kiselyova and Angus MacSwan