European leaders have decided to extend economic sanctions against Russia.
As Barend Leyts, a spokesman for the European Council’s president, wrote on Twitter that EU members agreed «on conclusions EU-US relations and the roll-over of the sanctions against Russia.» However, European media has known this before the European Council meeting on December 10-11.
Moreover, as Russian RIA Novosti reported, an unknown European official familiar with the issue informed the news agency that sanctions against Russia will be extended for six more months.
The official noted that these economic sanctions are aimed to limit trade or exchanges in several economic sectors. Usually, they have been reconsidered each time the EU reassesses the Minsk Protocol implementation. June of this year was the last time the EU extended sanctions against Russia.
European sanctions were imposed against Moscow on July 31, 2014, after Russian annexation of Crimea and its following invasion of East Ukraine. Since then, the sanctions have been extended many times.
According to the standard procedure, the decision about new terms of sanctions must be made by consent of European leaders. Then European council services have to finish whatever is needed for technical justification and formalization of this decision.
In March 2015, the European Council announced that the duration of sanctions will depend on the full implementation of the Minsk Protocol. And if the EU decides there is no progress in Minsk Protocol implementation, it could extend sanctions.
Among the Russian economy’s sectors that were affected by the restrictions are finances, energy and defense industry as well as dual-use products. For example, five of Russia’s large financial groups with state-owned shares no longer have access to EU money markets. Three companies from the energy sector and another three from the defense industry were set under sanctions. They can’t export or import weapons, dual-use products, or receive services and technologies for the oil industry. However, these measures might be changed or even canceled if needed.
The relations between Russia and the Western countries have worsened since Crimea was annexed by Russia. The Western countries blamed Russia for the foreign interventions and imposed sanctions against the country. In turn, Moscow has started to replace imported products with domestic products. Russia refused to give up by saying that the language of sanctions won’t be effective.