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EU Keeps Russian Sanctions In Place

Pro-Russian rebels pose for a picture next to the burnt-out remains of a Ukrainian tank near the village of Novokaterinovka, eastern Ukraine on September 24.

The European Union has decided to keep in place sanctions against Russia over its actions in eastern Ukraine and its support of rebels there.

EU ambassadors met in Brussels on September 30 to assess the situation in eastern Ukraine.

The bloc imposed its latest round of sanctions earlier this month.

At the time, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said they could be dropped depending on the results of a review, the deadline of which was September 30.

But the EU found that Ukraine's peace plan, agreed to between Kyiv and pro-Russian rebels, had not yet been fully implemented.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kojicancic said there had been "encouraging developments" in "some aspects" of the peace deal, but added that "relevant parts of the protocol will need to be properly implemented."

Moscow denies sending troops to Ukraine or aiding the rebels there.

The rival parties in Ukraine signed a 12-point cease-fire agreement in Minsk on September 5, while a separate deal was inked on September 19 between Ukraine's army and pro-Russian rebels, which included plans to create a buffer zone.

But fighting has still continued.

Reports from eastern Ukraine said artillery fire has pounded the area around Donetsk's international airport.

Kyiv said the rebels started firing Grad rockets at Ukrainian positions at the airport on September 30.

But the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk said their forces opened fire after Ukrainian troops started shelling the city of Donetsk, which is in rebel hands.

In the neighboring region of Luhansk on September 30, regional governor Hennadiy Moskal said Grad rocket fire by separatists killed several people in the town of Popasna.

The rebels denied firing the rockets.

On September 29, officials said that nine soldiers and four civilians had been killed in just one day, in what was the deadliest attack in a month.

Almost 3,000 people have died in the Ukraine conflict.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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