The European Union has formally extended its economic sanctions against Russian by another six months, until July 2019. While the current sanctions will remain in place through the upcoming summer, EU leaders have decided to impose new sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The European Council said that the roll-over of sanctions was done unanimously. The punitive measures go back to 2014 when Russia occupied and took over Crimea. The sanctions are linked to the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Council commented that the decision is because “there is no progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements”.
The economic sanctions currently in place include limited access to EU capital markets for five major Russian state-run financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries, an export and import ban on trade in arms as well as an export ban on dual-use goods for military. Trade in sensitive technologies and services is also curtailed when used for oil production and exploration. The 2014 sanctions also included a suspension of the signature of new financing operations in Russia including those of new financing options to be provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Board of Directors and the European Central Bank (ECB).
Earlier this week, the EU leadership also decided to impose asset freezes and visa bans on five Russians who are believed to be behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom. All five are thought to be Russian military intelligence agents. In the meantime, the US Treasury announced new sanctions against some Russian individuals and private entities over what it called Moscow’s “continued disregard for international norms.” The sanctions are also tied to the Russian attempts to try to influence the 2016 US presidential election.