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Published: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 11:32:05 PM
Updated: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 11:33:26 PM

Russia looks to Asia to offset fall in Western meat imports

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will look to Asia to compensate for a decrease in meat supplies from the United States, European Union and Australia, Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service (VPSS) said on Friday.

The move comes amid the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War over Russia's decision to annex Crimea from Ukraine.

Washington expanded sanctions to 20 more prominent Russians and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Russia may allow Chinese pork and Indian buffalo meat imports to offset a fall in imports from the United States, European Union and Australia, VPSS spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said.

"A decision may be made in the coming weeks," he said, adding that Russia would also like to increase meat imports from Brazil.

Russia's turn to Asia does not stem from the sanctions imposed by Western countries. "All these issues started before Ukraine," Alekseenko said.

Earlier on Friday, Russia slightly eased a ban on most U.S. meat imports over the use of the feed additive ractopamine by allowing U.S. pork imports by two subsidiaries of Chinese-owned producer Smithfield Foods Inc.

It said that it was considering temporary limits on Australian beef imports due to the use of a productivity stimulant.

The regulator said that it remained in disagreement with European Commission authorities on measures that would allow Moscow to resume pork imports from the EU.

Russia limited pork imports from the EU following an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in January.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt, Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)

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