Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says it’s disappointing Russia has chosen to retaliate with sanctions rather than listen to concerns about its policy in Ukraine.
The federal government says it’s disappointed by Russia’s trade sanctions on Australia which block exports worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Russia has introduced an embargo on agricultural products from Australia, the European Union, the United States, Canada and others.
Those countries have imposed their own sanctions against Moscow over its policy in Ukraine.
Beef, pork, fruit and vegetable produce, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products are on the Russian-imposed sanctions list, announced on Thursday night (AEST).
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says it’s disappointing that Russia has retaliated rather than adhere to international concern and stop the flow of weapons to Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.
It’s believed Russia supplied the weapon that was used to down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, including 38 Australians.
“The Australian government will do everything in its power to minimise the impact on Australian agricultural producers,” she told AAP in a statement.
Australia had acted in line with others in the international community in imposing sanctions on Russia, she said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban would start immediately and last one year unless “our partners demonstrate a constructive approach” with regards to sanctions.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb’s office echoed Ms Bishop’s disappointment over the sanctions but told AAP the minister had to consider Russia’s statements and the implications of those before making further comment.
Australia exported $405 million worth of produce to Russia last year, including meat, wool, horticulture and alcohol.
Most of that is meat and live animals – making up about $310 million – and dairy, at around $78 million.
In April, Russia banned Australian chilled and frozen beef citing concerns about growth steroids.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said Russia was free to do whatever it feels is appropriate for its people in terms of trade.
Mr Joyce said his responsibility was to ensure Australian produce was exported as diversely as possible.
“My job is to make sure our produce moves to as many venues as possible,” he told AAP from a meeting in Brisbane to sign a declaration with Indonesia over food security in the red meat and cattle sector.
An unnamed government source told AAP sanctions of this nature, while disadvantaging exporters, would mainly hurt Russia’s own people.
The sanctions follow the withdrawal of a Dutch-led recovery team from the MH17 crash site, amid escalating fighting between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukraine.
It’s not clear if Australian experts involved in the investigation will be able to re-enter the site.