In a decree signed Wednesday, Putin banned food and agricultural imports from countries that have imposed sanctions against his country.
The retaliatory move comes more than a week after the United States and European Union increased economic sanctions on Moscow for supporting pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukraine government forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, along the border with Russia.
A list of specific products and food bans is still being worked out by the Russian government, according to the decree, which describes the order as a special economic measure "aimed at ensuring the security of the Russian Federation."
Remember high school economics? The benefits of specialization? The plumber plumbs, the doctor doctors, the farmer farms, the teacher teaches. They trade freely and voluntarily with each other, and everyone's better off than if the doctor's installing her own faucets, skinning her knuckles and getting it wrong, and the plumber's squinting at WebMD and trying to guess why his kid's forehead feels hot.
Russia is Europe's largest importer in value of animals, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, according to the European Union.
The trouble with these free-and-voluntary arrangements is that there's no demand for the services of the "defense" contractors or the costumed mass murderers. These folks might have to learn to weld, and get their brows all sweaty and their hands grubby. They might have to know something useful, that someone would be willing to pay them to teach. They might have to learn to cook, quickly and well, and keep fifteen breakfast orders accurately in their heads at one time -- some of the hardest work there is, that last. And that would never do. So we get these crises. Obviously, the little people can't be allowed to trade freely with each other. Especially across international borders (defined as lines drawn by thug gangs to separate one gang's turf from another gang's). So ... sanctions. Ideally, these are the prelude to shooting wars. Not, of course, any sort of all-out wars. Since there still exist strategic nuclear weapons, the wrong people could be endangered by wars of that kind. But maybe our supervisors ... the people who make nothing, and do nothing, that anyone will pay for ... can arrange more of those agreeable, limited wars. The kind that chew up the domestic underclass, and that add handsomely to the corporate bottom lines in the "defense industry."
By the way, I do not mean to suggest that there is complete moral symmetry between our noble supervisors and The Wicked Putin. Both are playing the do-not-trade game now. But The Wicked Putin didn't start this round; our boys did.