The EU heads of state or government, gathered in Brussels, on Thursday agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russian Federation for six months, the Lithuanian President's Office said, cites LETA/BNS.
The EU measures, which mainly target the Russian banking and energy sectors, were first imposed in the summer of 2014 and have been extended every six months since then.
The decision to extend the measures, which was widely expected, came at a summit in Brussels which saw the launch of a major new European Union defense cooperation agreement.
Moscow said yesterday it "regrets" the decision. "Yet, we are still on a course for better relations with Brussels that now leave much to be desired", he added.
European Union diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL on December 8 that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would recommend at the European Union summit that the sanctions be extended a further six months. The agreement, which was drafted in late 2014 and then re-worked in early 2015, has been violated nearly daily. During a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders made a decision to prolong the measures for an additional six months, Reuters reported.
"We have prevented an escalation, but we have not enough progress in order to remove the sanctions", Merkel said.
The war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and rebels backed by Moscow has claimed more than 10,000 lives and rumbles on despite a series of periodic truce deals.