Canada Responds to Russian Ban On Food Imports by Sending Military Aid to Ukraine

In response to Russia’s ban on beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products imported from the European Union, the U.S., Australia, Canada and Norway, Canada has sent a cargo plane of military hardware to Ukraine.

Russia imposed the ban following economic sanctions by the U.S. and other countries. The announcement made by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during the opening of a weekly government session earlier this week followed a move by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put in place economic sanctions and travel bans on Russian and Ukrainian individuals and groups.

Canada has a significant economic stake in trade with Russia. The country exported $1.7 billion worth of goods to Russia in 2012. Food, including pork and crustaceans, led the exports according to a report issued by the Canadian government. The ban on pork alone will cost Canada $500 million a year.

“We will not be intimidated by these kinds of tactics,” Canadian Industry Minister James Moore said following the Russian announcement.

The cargo transport from Canada arrived in Kharkov carrying $4.5 million in on-lethal military equipment, including “helmets, ballistic eyewear, protective vests, first aid kits, tents, and sleeping bags,” according to Harper.

The military equipment, Harper said, will “allow Ukrainian security and border authorities to better detect and track the movement of illicit goods and people.”

On Thursday NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk to talk about increasing military assistance.