The EU may extend the duration of the economic sanctions against Russia by one year instead of six months, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius announced upon arriving at the EU Council session in Luxembourg, TASS reports.
“Additional sanctions or at least an extension of the sanctions by 12 months instead of six could become a reality,” he said.
On December 21, 2017, the Council of the EU prolonged the sanctions against Russia by six months, moving the expiry date to July 31, 2018.
The sanctions were first introduced on July 31, 2014, for a period of one year, in response to Russia’s attempts to destabilize Ukraine. The sanctions were intensified that same year, and directed at the financial, energy and defense sector, as well as dual-purpose goods.
On March 19, 2015, the Council of the EU agreed to bind the duration of these sanctions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, which was supposed to come about by December 31 that year. Since the Minsk agreements have not been implemented, the EU Council as been extending the duration of the sanctions every six months.
The economic sanctions include restriction of access to the EU’s primary and secondary capital markets for five state majority companies and their subsidiaries, as well as for three major Russian energy companies and three defense companies. The restrictions also entail a ban on the export and import of weapons, a ban on the export of dual purpose goods for military use or for military end users in Russia. They also limit Russia’s access to certain sensitive technologies and services which could be used for oil extraction or exploration.
In addition to these economic sanctions, several other measures by the EU are in effect as a response to the crisis in Ukraine. These include visa bans and the freezing of the assets of 150 physical entities and 38 legal entities (until September 15, 2018).
Furthermore, the restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol are currently in effect until June 23, 2018.