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Ukraine

Russia bans Ukraine candy imports

Russia has added to its wide boycott of some food imports by banning Ukrainian sweets. It comes as three high-level meetings across Europe focus on the Ukraine crisis on Friday, including peace talks in Minsk.

Russian consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor announced the banning of all confectionery from Ukraine on Friday. It is the latest import to be blocked by Moscow amid the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The agency said checks on two firms revealed incorrect labeling on some products.

"In order to ensure the rights of consumers, Rospotrebnadzor...is suspending the import into the territory of the Russian Federation of confectionery goods produced in Ukraine," the agency said in a statement.

Last year, Russia banned chocolate produced by Roshen, a company founded by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was elected in May this year. Russia has also banned a range of other goods from Ukraine over alleged quality issues, including dairy products, fruit juice and beer.

Ukraine and Russia are locked in a deadly struggle over a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine that Kyiv and Western powers accuse Moscow of spearheading. The Kremlin rejects this claim.

A number of high-level meetings are taking place across Europe on Friday to discuss how to deal with Russia's aggression in Ukraine. EU agriculture ministers are due to meet in Brussels to debate the impact of Russia's recent embargo on food imports from the EU.

In the Belarusian capital Minsk, representatives from the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine as well as the Russian and Ukrainian governments will meet to discuss a possible ceasefire. Poroshenko has expressed limited optimism about the success of these talks.

Meanwhile, NATO leaders will continue the second and final day of their meet in Newport, Wales, in talks that have largely focused on Ukraine. On Thursday, the alliance's 28 heads of state and government vowed to back Ukraine's fight against the separatists.

In a statement, the group accused Russia of orchestrating the crisis in eastern Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has urged Moscow to stay out of Ukraine, said he was skeptical of Russia's intentions ahead of the Minsk talks.

jr/nm (AFP, Reuters)

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