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EU Could Prolong Russia Sanctions Through December

BRUSSELS -- The European Union is considering keeping its economic sanctions against Russia in place though December 2015 in hopes of bolstering implementation of a peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

EU sanctions targeting the Russian energy and financial services sectors were agreed in June and July 2014 and will be up for renewal one year after they entered into force.

The sanctions, imposed over Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine, will expire without a unanimous decision to extend them.

Several diplomats from EU member states, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that EU heads of state might decide to extend the measures through December when they meet for a summit in Brussels on March 19.

They said a major reason is to synchronize the sanctions with a peace deal brokered on February 12 in Minsk by the leaders of Germany and France, under which Ukraine is to regain control of its border with Russia in the separatist-held areas by the end of the year under certain conditions.

Some diplomats said key EU member Germany favors prolongation but has concerns it could prompt Russia to renege on implementation.

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