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EU formally extends sanctions against Russia for six months

European Union flags. (Thijs ter Haar/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The European Union has formally extended economic sanctions against Russia, first imposed more than four years ago for Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula.

The European Council said on December 21 that the measures would remain in place for another six months, until July 2019.

The council, which is the grouping of the governments of 28 EU member countries, said it had adopted its decision unanimously.

EU leaders had agreed on the extension last week to do so, and also considered imposing more sanctions over Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships off Crimea, but in the end, opted not to.

The measures target Russia’s banking, energy, and defense sectors.

Earlier this week, EU diplomats agreed to impose asset freezes and visa bans on five Russians whom the EU believe are responsible for the March poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. The five are believed to be Russian military intelligence agents.