EU leaders officially decided on Friday to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months citing Moscow’s lack of progress in implementing the Minsk agreements to put an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
“EU leaders have agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia by six months,” said the European Council, which represents member states, on its Twitter account.
The discussion on the Minsk Agreements took place after marathon negotiations on migration issues at the end of the first day of the EU summit in Brussels.
The sanctions were first agreed on in the summer of 2014, at the height of the Ukrainian crisis, a few months after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, followed by the offensive of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine . Kiev and Westerner government’s accuse Russia of supporting separatist rebels, including providing them with weapons, which Moscow categorically denies.
The EU has also imposed sanctions on nearly 150 individuals, including relatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their European bank accounts and assets have been frozen and they are no longer eligible to to receive visas to travel to the EU.
In their conclusions, the European Council also urged Russia to “recognise its responsibility” in the disaster of flight MH17 shot down by a missile over Ukraine in 2014.