BRUSSELS, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The European Union's European Council announced a six-month extension of sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine on Monday.
The EU imposed sanctions against Russia's financial, energy and defence sectors "in response to Russia's actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine," a statement by the council Monday said, referring to Russia's annexation of Crimea and involvement with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions have been extended at six-month intervals.
The EU has stressed the lifting of sanctions will come after Russia abides by the 2014 Minsk peace agreement; the agreement calls for, among other points, a ceasefire in Ukraine and opportunity for adequate monitoring of the ceasefire, the release of hostages and the withdrawal of all armed groups from the area of conflict. EU leaders agreed at last week's council meeting that Russia has not met the requirements for the removal of sanctions.
Nearly 10,000 people have died since fighting began in Ukraine in 2014.
Supporters of the extension believe the sanctions may not be prolonged much longer, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty noted Monday. It cited the exit of Britain, which has supported the sanctions, from the EU, as well as uncertainty about the position of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, who has expressed pro-Russian sympathies. It added that French President Francois Hollande, who is not running in his country's 2017 presidential election, will likely be replaced by a person less critical of Russia than he.