EU pro­longs Rus­sia sanc­tions 6 months

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

EU for­eign min­is­ters for­mally agreed Mon­day to pro­long to Jan­uary 2016 dam­ag­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions against Rus­sia to en­sure it fully im­ple­ments Ukraine peace ac­cords, of­fi­cials said.

“EU has ex­tended eco­nomic sanc­tions against Rus­sia un­til 31 Jan­uary 2016, with a view to com­plete im­ple­men­ta­tion of (the) Minsk agree­ment,” an EU spokes­woman said in a tweeted mes­sage.

The 28-na­tion bloc ini­tially im­posed travel bans and as­set freezes against Rus­sian and Ukrainian fig­ures for their part in the cri­sis but then re­acted sharply af­ter Malaysia Air­lines flight MH17 was shot down in July over ter­ri­tory held by proMoscow rebels.

Brus­sels hit Rus­sia’s bank­ing, oil and de­fense sec­tors hard and, along with the United States, has warned more sanc­tions could fol­low un­less Moscow lives up to its Minsk com­mit­ments in Fe­bru­ary to with­draw sup­port for the rebels and use its in­flu­ence with them to im­ple­ment the ac­cord.

In March, EU lead­ers agreed in prin­ci­ple to roll the sanc­tions over by link­ing them di­rectly to the cease-fire bro­kered by France and Ger­many in Minsk that runs to De­cem­ber this year.

The cease-fire has largely held since then but Kiev and the rebels swap charges daily over breaches and observers re­ported a sharp pick up in fight­ing ear­lier this month in a con­flict which has claimed more than 6,400 lives and de­stroyed much of eastern Ukraine.

The for­eign min­is­ters of France, Ger­many, Ukraine and Rus­sia are due to meet in Paris on Tues­day to re­view the sit­u­a­tion.

Sep­a­rately, the EU an­nounced Fri­day that it had pro­longed un­til June 2016 sanc­tions im­posed to pun­ish Rus­sia’s illegal an­nex­a­tion of Crimea.

The Euro­pean

Coun­cil, which groups the bloc’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, said they con­tin­ued to “con­demn the illegal an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and Sev­astopol by the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion and re­mains com­mit­ted to fully im­ple­ment its non-recog­ni­tion pol­icy.”

Rus­sia an­nexed Crimea in March 2014 fol­low­ing the ouster of pro-Moscow pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych in Kiev, say­ing the penin­sula had voted over­whelm­ing in fa­vor of re­turn­ing to its Rus­sian home­land.

The Crimea sanc­tions in­clude bans on cruise ships us­ing ports there and re­stric­tions on ex­ports of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and trans­port equip­ment, in ad­di­tion to visa bans and as­set freezes against fig­ures said to have helped the Rus­sian an­nex­a­tion.

The Ukraine cri­sis has plunged EU and U.S. ties with Rus­sia into the deep freeze, with some of the ex­changes rem­i­nis­cent of Cold War ten­sions.

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