US sees 'insignificant' impact from Russia food embargo

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Russia's ban on imports of food products from Europe and the United States Thursday will likely have an "insignificant" impact on the US economy, a top US Treasury official said.

The embargo announced by Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev came in retaliation against US and European sanctions over Russia's alleged role in separatist violence in the eastern Ukraine.

"The steps that Russia announced are likely insignificant as an impact on the US economy but they are also in some respects a cruel irony," said David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"What the Russians have done here is essentially impose sanctions on their own people. And they have imposed a type of sanctions - limiting access to food - that the United States and our allies would never do," he said in a conference call.

Cohen said that as a matter of policy the United States does not target food, medicine or medical devices when applying sanctions against another country.

Medvedev said the Russian embargo will bar imports of meats, fruits and vegetables, fish, and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway, for a period of a year. Only baby food was exempted.