Updated 8:12 p.m. Moscow Time
NOVO OGARYOVO (outside Moscow), October 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will maintain its ban on food imports from EU countries as long as they keep in force their anti-Russian sanctions, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Monday.
"Europe must be the first to lift sanctions against Russia," Ulyukayev told reporters.
The minister added that even a partial lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions could be a signal for Moscow to start easing its restrictive economic measures.
According to Ulyukayev, Russia has not filed lawsuits against the Western sanctions to the World Trade Organization yet and is currently working on legal and technical aspects.
The European Union and the United States have imposed several waves of sanctions against the Russian economy over its alleged meddling in the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has responded to the sanctions with a one-year food ban that targets a range of products from the countries that implemented restrictions against Russia.
In September, presidential aide Andrei Belousov claimed preparations for a legal dispute against the Western sanctions were already underway. The official also warned Russia's losing the ensuing legal battle against the sanctions would lead to a negative precedent for global trade with political interests dominating over free trade principles.