EU extends Russia sanctions over Ukraine conflict

Pro-Russia forces pose for a photo in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine on Feb. 19, 2015. (Photo by AP)
Pro-Russia forces pose for a photo in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine on Feb. 19, 2015. (Photo by AP)

The European Union on Monday extended by a further six months sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials over their suspected involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Asset freezes and travel bans now affect 150 individuals, up one from six months earlier, and 38 “entities”, which include businesses, organizations and political parties.

“An assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the sanctions regime,” the EU’s 28 member states said in a statement.

The individual sanctions are part of measures taken by the EU to punish Moscow for its support for pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began in early 2014.

Sweeping economic sanctions targeting the Russian oil, defense and banking sectors, imposed in summer 2014, were extended by six months in December.

The EU imposed the economic sanctions against Russia after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014, killing 298 people, an attack the West blamed on pro-Russian forces.

The conflict between pro-Russia fighters and Ukrainian troops has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014, when Crimea rejoined Russia.

Clashes continue despite the signing of peace accords in Minsk in 2015 and regular ceasefires, which both sides accuse each other of breaking.

The EU also has individual sanctions in force against Russia over its 2014 unification with Crimea.

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