Russia bans Australian food imports over sanctions

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop says it is disappointing Russia has retaliated over Australian sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine and has promised to assist affected Australian farmers.

Russia has announced a ban on most food imports from a range of Western nations, including Australia, in response to sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Meanwhile, NATO secretary-general Anders Gogh Rasmussen has called on Russia to "step back from the brink" of war by pulling its troops back from the Ukrainian border.

In a statement, Ms Bishop has criticised Russia's move and said it should have done more to disarm the separatists in Ukraine.

"It is disappointing that Russia has acted in a retaliatory manner rather than respond to international concern by halting the supply of heavy weapons to the separatists, including the surface-to-air missile systems believed to have been used in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that resulted in the tragic deaths of 38 citizens and residents of Australia," she said.

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