EU Extends Economic Sanctions Against Russia Until January 31, 2019

© Sputnik / Vladimir Fedorenko / Go to the photo bankBuilding of Council of Europe in Strasbourg
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The EU's sanctions against Moscow include three independent parts: visa restrictions against Russian citizens, economic sector sanctions against enterprises, and restrictive measures against the Crimea. All three packages were introduced in 2014 and with the non-Crimea sanctions extended twice a year and the Crimea sanctions once a year.

The European Council announced on Thursday that the sanctions will remian in force untill January 31, 2019.

"This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 28-29 June 2018 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked," the Council said in a statement.

A handout by Nord Stream 2 claims to show the first pipes for the Nord Stream 2 project at a plant of OMK, which is one of the three pipe suppliers selected by Nord Stream 2 AG, in Vyksa, Russia, in this undated photo provided to Reuters on March 23, 2017 - Sputnik International
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According to the document, the Council adopted the decision by written procedure and, "in line with the rule for all such decisions, unanimously."

Addressing the issue, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said EU leaders had missed a chance to change their relations with Moscow.

"We are considering the political decision taken by EU heads of states and governments to prolong unilateral sanctions against our country in the economic and financial area as yet another missed opportunity to constructively rethink EU foreign policy approach to Russia," Zakharova said at a briefing.

She added that Moscow regrets that EU countries continue to tie the state of the relations between bloc and Russia to the state of the Minsk accords on Ukrainian settlement given that Kiev was still undermining peace in the east of the country.

READ MORE: 'We Can't Be a US Lackey': Austrian Business Peeved by Anti-Russian Sanctions

Relations between Russia and the EU deteriorated amid a coup d'état in Kiev in February 2014. After the people of teh Crimean Peninsula held a referendum and voted for  rejoining with Russia, Western states accused Moscow of violating international law and imposed sanctions against it. In its turn, Russia responded with agricultural counter-sanctions, also setting a course for import substitution.

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