The European Union (EU) on Thursday extended by six months its economic sanctions against Russia for its presumed involvement in the conflict that has wracked eastern Ukraine for more than three and a half years. The EU Council, made up of the union’s 28 member states, said in a press release that it “has prolonged economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2018”. The Council said it regretted that the 2015 Minsk agreements, whose provisions include a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, had still not been fully implemented.
The sanctions, to which Moscow retaliated by placing an embargo on food imports from Europe, affect banks, Russia’s defence industry, and oil companies. They also ban European financial investments in Russia.
European leaders had given the go-ahead for the prolongation of the sanctions at a summit in Brussels last week, recalling that the EU had conditioned any lifting of the punitive measures on progress in implementing the Minsk agreements.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has intensified recently, has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
An EU spokesman said in a press release that it was crucial for all parties to implement the Minsk agreements and that the EU was waiting for Russia, in particular, to use its influence on the separatists, fully and immediately, to that effect.