Brussels, 13 December 2019 (dpa/MIA) – EU leaders agreed on Thursday to once again prolong economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, a spokesman for European Council President Charles Michel announced on Twitter.
“Prolongation of Russia sanctions is adopted by [EU leaders],” spokesman Barend Leyts tweeted.
The sanctions were first adopted in July 2014 in light of Russia‘s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its support for pro-Moscow separatists in the country’s east.
The restrictive measures have since been extended every six months.
The European Union has tied easing the sanctions to progress on the Minsk agreement, which calls for an unconditional ceasefire and for both sides to pull back heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine.
Ahead of Thursday’s decision, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were due to brief EU leaders on Monday’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
At their first so-called Normandy summit in three years – and the first face-to-face encounter between Zelensky and Putin – the two leaders agreed to implement a full ceasefire in eastern Ukraine by the end of the year.
The EU sanctions target Russia‘s financial, energy and defence industries, impeding banks’ access to EU markets and limiting certain EU imports.
Separate measures are in place against the annexed territories of Crimea and Sevastopol.