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EU Officially Extends Russia Sanctions Through January 2019


French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- The European Union has officially extended until January 31, 2019, the economic sanctions first placed on Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea and its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The extension was finalized on July 5 and comes after EU leaders unanimously agreed to prolong the measures during the bloc's summit in Brussels on June 29.

The measures primarily hit Russia’s banking and energy sectors.

At the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron updated EU counterparts on the state of play of the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked.

The Minsk accords reached in 2014 and 2015 in the Belarusian capital aimed to resolve the conflict and called for a series of cease-fire deals in eastern Ukraine, but they have failed to hold.

Since April 2014, more than 10,300 people have been killed in fighting between Kyiv's forces and the separatists who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

Both sides have accused each other of repeated violations of the agreements.

EU leaders will again consider whether to extend the sanctions when they meet in Brussels in December.

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