EU leaders agree to extend Russia sanctions by six months

By bne IntelliNews December 16, 2016

The leaders of the 28 European Union member state leaders agreed in Brussels on December 15 to extend the economic sanctions against Russia by six more months.

The formal decision to extend the measures imposed in 2014 over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine is to be adopted within the next few days at the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union.

The current term of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia expires on January 31, 2017. Under the reached agreements, they are expected to be extended until July 31, 2017.

“All member states understand that it is inevitable,” TASS quoted the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite as saying upon her arrival in the Belgian capital for the year’s last summit.

The sanctions restrict Russian access to international financing and impose curbs on defence and energy cooperation with Russia, which drew the measures through its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsular and then fomented a separatist conflict in East Ukraine that has claimed almost 10,000 lives.

“This simple story has been repeating itself every six months,” Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told TASS earlier. According to Chizhov, the EU is extending sanctions for the sake of preserving unity, which has become a goal in itself.

“First, some big EU countries say that sanctions should be either cancelled or eased but immediately after that minor but vociferous states demand that sanctions be extended and expanded. And then, someone we all know [President of the European Council Donald Tusk] steps forward as an arbitrator and says: “Our unity is in danger so let’s leave it as it is’.”

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