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EU May Announce Extension Of Russia Sanctions

BRUSSELS -- EU leaders are pondering whether to prolong economic sanctions against Russia when they meet in Brussels on March 19.

An EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that European Council President Donald Tusk is working with Germany and France on a proposal suggesting that a decision to extend sanctions targeting the banking and oil sectors until December should be made this month.

But diplomats said some countries, including Greece, Austria, and Slovakia, want to wait and make a decision in June, when some of the sanctions come up for renewal.

A draft of conclusions for the two-day summit, seen by RFE/RL, had left a blank space for a decision on prolonging the sanctions, which were imposed in response to Russia's interference in Ukraine.

The draft conclusions also call for the strengthening of relations with the six Eastern Partnership countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine -- and voice support for the ratification of Association Agreements forging closer ties with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The draft highlights the need to challenge "Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns" and calls on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to prepare an action plan "on strategic communication in support of media freedom and EU values" by June.

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