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European Union extends sanctions against Russia over cease-fire agreement

By Andrew V. Pestano
The European Union extended sanctions on Russia on Monday until the end of January 2016. File Photo by jorisvo/Shutterstock
The European Union extended sanctions on Russia on Monday until the end of January 2016. File Photo by jorisvo/Shutterstock

LUXEMBOURG, June 22 (UPI) -- The European Union on Monday extended sanctions against Russia until the end of January 2016 in an effort to force compliance with the Minsk cease-fire agreement.

The sanctions were initially imposed in March 2014 as a result of Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and its apparent military support for rebel troops. The sanctions target Russian President Vladimir Putin, senior government and military officials, as well as Russia's military, state banks and energy companies.

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NATO has said hundreds of Russian tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers have entered eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, bordering Russia -- an accusation Russia denies.

The Kremlin has previously said the sanctions by the E.U. and the United States are "destructive."

The Minsk cease-fire was agreed on in February, but has been continuously broken by both sides. The United Nations reported that more than 6,400 people have been killed in Ukrainian conflict.

European Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic confirmed the extension of sanctions:

The Ukrainian conflict began as separatists seized portions of the two eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, shortly after Russia seized the Ukrainian province of Crimea.

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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