BRUSSELS – European Union leaders agreed to extend the bloc’s sanctions on Russia for another six months, European Council President Donald Tusk said, according to Dow Jones.
The sanctions, which affect energy, financial and defense ties, were first imposed in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
In response, Russia has banned imports of some European agricultural products.
European officials say they will only lift the sanctions when the 2015 Minsk peace agreements between Ukraine, Russia and pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine are fully implemented.
That includes a full ceasefire in the Donbass region, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the restoration of Ukraine’s control of its side of the border with Russia.
However, some EU leaders have been critical of the sanctions and believe Kiev should do more to advance the peace process.
The sanctions are expected to be formally rolled over late next week, according to a senior EU official.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a news conference on Thursday that the west was to blame for the poor state of relations.
The US has also imposed economic sanctions on Russia since 2014 over the Ukraine crisis.