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EU to extend sanctions against Russia

The sanctions were due to expire on July 31.

By Ed Adamczyk
EU to extend sanctions against Russia
The Russian energy giant Gazprom is among Russian corporations impacted by European Union sanctions. File Photo by UPI/Shutterstock/Igor Golovniov

BRUSSELS, June 17 (UPI) -- The European Union agreed in principle Wednesday to extend its economic sanctions against Russia for six more months.

The sanctions were first imposed in March 2014 as a response to Russian annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in Ukraine, a charge Russia denies. They were set to expire on July 31. The renewal of sanctions, the content of which is not expected to change, must be ratified next week at a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg; its approval is expected.

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Russia's energy, defense and financial sectors were targeted for the sanctions. Separately, the United States has imposed sanctions on Russia as well. Russia imposed a ban on imported foods in retaliation. Dozens of Russian officials, including politicians and military officers, have been put on an EU and U.S. blacklist of their personal and business transactions.

In March, EU leaders said the sanctions would continue until there is evidence of a "complete implementation" of the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus, a deal which has been violated regularly.

The vote for extension Wednesday by EU ambassadors was a unanimous 28-0, as was the extension of a ban on EU investment in Crimea.

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Russia lobbied vigorously against the renewal, in a chamber of voters in which a unanimous decision is required. Although EU members Greece, Hungary and Cyprus have demonstrated little interest in sanctions, they voted for the extension.

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