BRUSSELS, July 1 (UPI) — The European Union extended economic sanctions on Russia for six more months on Friday.
The decision came after Russia’s announcement in June that its ban on food imports from EU countries, as well as from the United States, Canada, Norway and Australia, will be extended through the end of 2017.
The EU sanctions were levied in September 2014 in response to Russia’s destabilizing actions in Ukraine, including its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and its seizure of Crimea. The initial term was one year, but the sanctions have been extended four times. The ban is connected to full implementation of the Minsk Protocol, agreed to in September 2014, which calls for a bilateral ceasefire, release of hostages and withdrawal of illegally armed Russian forces in Ukraine, among other points.
The economic sanctions on Russia include limiting access to EU capital markets for Russian banks, defense companies and energy companies; a ban on arms trade; a curtailment of Russian access to oil production and exploration technology, and a visa ban and asset freeze on 146 people and 37 entities.