The European Union has prolonged the economic sanctions against Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea until January 2019. The decision came in response to the remarks by French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Merkel to the European Council on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the punitive measures targeting finance, energy and defense sectors are tied. The sanctions were first implemented in July 2014 for one year over Russia’s destabilizing activities in Ukraine.
The economic sanctions include curtailing Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil exploration and production, imposing an export and import ban on trade in arms, and establishing an export ban for dual-use goods for military end users in Russia. The EU has also limited access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for 5 major Russian majority state-run financial institutions including energy and oil companies. On top of the economic measures, Brussels is also targeting individual restrictive measures including a visa ban and an asset freeze currently against 155 people and 38 entities. Other types of restrictive measures include diplomatic measures, restrictions on economic cooperation and restrictions on economic activities with Crimea and Sevastopol.
On the diplomatic end, the 2014 EU-Russia summit was cancelled and EU member states decided not to hold regular bilateral summits as part of the sanctions regime. The EU also supported the suspension of Russia’s negotiations to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). The duration of the sanctions was linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, which was foreseen to take place by the end of 2015. Since this was not the case, the sanctions are still in place.