EU extends some Ukraine-related sanctions for half year

EU extends some Ukraine-related sanctions for half year
By bne IntelliNews September 16, 2016

The European Union Council prolonged some of its sanctions against Russia after their expiry on September 15, the body’s website said.

Imposed in March 2014 and extended six months ago, the measures will remain in place until March 15, 2017. Meanwhile, the bulk of the EU economic sanctions against certain Russian economic sectors will stay in place until January 31, 2017, as well as restrictive measures for the illegal Crimean annexation that will run until June 23, 2017, the Council’s report said.

While Western leaders stress the need to keep the sanctions in place on Russia, there have been growing calls to end them from some politicians and business circles. The key test for their further extension will be the US presidential election in November, which if won by Republican candidate Donald Trump will likely see the removal of US sanctions, increasing the likelihood that the EU will follow. If elected, Trump could start lifting sanctions against Russia shortly after his inauguration in January.

On September 7, the US Commerce Department added 11 Russian companies to the list of those sanctioned over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in East Ukraine. This followed the September 1 publication of an expanded US list of 81 sanctioned companies. Most of the new additions are based in Russia and include Gazprom subsidiaries and firms constructing a bridge from the Russian mainland across the Kerch Strait to Crimea.

The latest measures are intended to strengthen existing sanctions and shouldn’t be viewed as intensified economic pressure against the Russian government, US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said. “We are constantly working to close loopholes,” he said.

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