The EU is extending economic sanctions against Russia by six months, it announced today.
The sanctions, which were introduced in the July last year in response to Russia’s involvement in the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, will stay in place until 31 July 2016.
EU leaders linked the duration of the sanctions to the completion of the Minsk agreement, a peace settlement. However, since the agreement will not be fully implemented by 31 December, the duration has been extended.
The sanctions cover a range of sectors. EU nationals and businesses are prevented from lending to, or investing in, Russia’s five major-state owned banks or three big energy companies. Exports of military equipment and energy-related equipment to Russia are also restricted.
The sanctions compounded problems already faced by the Russian economy, which is struggling to cope with low global energy prices.
In response, Russia has put up sanctions against imports of many goods from the EU. The Russian foreign ministry criticised the EU’s decision.
“It is necessary to point out that instead of building constructive cooperation to counter the key challenges of our times such as international terrorism, the EU in Brussels prefers to continue its short-sighted game of sanctions,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.