The European Union has extended sanctions against Russia for another six months.
Sanctions imposed in response to Russia's interference in Ukraine were prolonged through July 31, 2016, after the deadline for EU nations to challenge the extension passed.
The 28-member EU first imposed sanctions on July 31, 2014, after Russia seized the Crimea region from Ukraine and lent support to separatists whose war against government forces has now killed more than 9,000 people in eastern Ukraine.
The EU said on December 21 that it was extending the sanctions because the Minsk peace accords, which Russia signed up to, would not be fully implemented by the end of this year.
The extension was in line with an agreement reached by EU ambassadors in Brussels on December 18.
The sanctions apply to Russia's financial, energy, and defense sectors as well as to specific individuals linked to the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, TASS