The Council of the European Union (EU) extended the economic sanctions against certain sectors of the Russian economy by another six months until January 31, 2018. The final decision was taken by written procedure with unanimity.
The measures were initially introduced on July 31, 2014 for one year in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, said the Council of the EU. They are targeted at the financial sector, energy and defense with dual-use items.
On March 19, 2015, the Council of the EU agreed to link the duration of the sanctions with the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, which initially had to be completed by end of 2015. But this did not happened and given that the Minsk agreements have not yet been fully implemented, the Council has been continuously extending sanctions ever since.
Economic sanctions include restricting access to the EU’s primary and secondary capital markets to five major Russian state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside the EU, as well as three major Russian defense companies and three large energy companies.
There is also a ban on the export and import of arms, as well as exports of dual-use items for military or military end-users in Russia, as well as Russia’s access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil exploration and production. The individual measures against 150 physical and 37 legal entities have also been introduced – a ban on issuing visas and freezing assets. Separate sanctions also apply for the annexation of the Crimea, which were also recently extended.