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EU Prolongs Russia Sanctions Until March 2019

BRUSSELS -- The European Union has extended by another six months visa bans and asset freeze against 155 Russian and Ukrainian individuals, as well as 44 companies, for undermining or threatening the independence of Ukraine.

"An assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the sanctions regime," The EU council said in a statement issued on September 13.

The list of sanctioned individuals includes the Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko who was killed in an explosion in the eastern city on August 31.

It also includes a deceased member of the Russian Duma, Iosif Kobzon.

EU sources told RFE/RL that both were likely to be de-listed at a later stage but that the bloc wanted to ensure that their potential assets held in the EU aren't passed over to someone else when they are removed from the list.

The sanctions were first imposed in March 2014 over Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine and its seizure and illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula. They have been renewed every six months since then. They have been now extended until March 15.

Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine and its support for separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014, has heightened tensions with the West.

With reporting by Reuters
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