The Council of the European Union has announced the extension of anti-Russian sanctions until February 2019. The previous restrictions expired in July.
“This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 28-29 June 2018 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked,” the Council said in a release on Thursday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that by extending the sanctions, Brussels had once again missed the opportunity to rethink its approach towards Russia. Moscow expressed regret that the EU lacked the determination to recognize that it is “artificial” to link Russia-EU relations with the Minsk agreements, which are being ignored by Ukraine.
The EU imposed restrictive measures against Russia in 2014 after its reunification with the Crimea and military conflict in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions are limiting access to capital markets for various Russian banks, their subsidiaries, and defense companies.
They also ban some government officials, businessmen and public figures. The restrictions also prevent the exportation and importation of arms from Russia, while several other restrictions also apply to Crimea. For example, citizens and companies from EU countries cannot import products from Crimea or invest in the economy of the Russian region.
Russia has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the intra-Ukrainian conflict, and it is counterproductive to introduce sanctions. Moscow took countermeasures by banning imports of a number of food products from EU countries.