AP Interview: Lithuanian PM says Russia's dairy ban is attempt to reassert power in region

Lithuania's prime minister says Russia's import restrictions on the Baltic country's dairy products are part Moscow's attempts to reassert influence in Eastern Europe.

Lithuania currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency and in November will hold a key summit where the bloc's leaders hope to reach a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine. Such a deal would harm Moscow's own plans to integrate its economy with the neighboring country.

Algirdas Butkevicius told The Associated Press on Thursday that the dairy ban, which Russia announced Monday, is an attempt to punish his country for playing a role in these talks.

He said the ban was "very serious" and could signal the start of a trade war. He added Lithuania hopes the EU will intervene and help compensate losses incurred by local dairies.