EU Agrees to Continue Economic Sanctions Against Russia

EU ambassadors agreed Wednesday to prolong wide-ranging economic sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 for the annexation of Crimea and fuelling the conflict in Ukraine, diplomats said.

The latest six-month extension to the end of January — set to be formally signed off by foreign ministers meeting on July 12 — comes as Brussels says ties with Moscow remain at their “lowest point”.

The sanctions — slapped on Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 — target the country’s key banking, energy, and defence sectors.

The measures remain in place while a long-stalled peace plan for east Ukraine — agreed between Moscow, Kiev, Berlin and Paris in 2015 — fails to make any progress.

Fighting rumbles on between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists and the Kremlin ramped up tensions earlier this year by deploying tens of thousands of troops to its neighbour’s border.

The EU is currently looking to revamp its strategy to keep its vast eastern neighbour in check — with French President Emmanuel Macron arguing the bloc was “at the limits” of its sanctions policy.

EU leaders rebuffed a push by Germany and France last week to restart meetings with President Vladimir Putin frozen since 2014, arguing it would reward the Kremlin before it has changed course.

They ordered foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the European Commission “to present options for additional restrictive measures, including economic sanctions” against Russia if ties worsen further.

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