EU extends sanctions against Russia

BRUSSELS: The EU extended damaging economic sanctions against Russia on Monday amid sharp differences over relations with Moscow that struck back with a furious tirade and its own import ban against Ukraine.

Russia said the decision showed the EU did not really want improved relations so as to battle common threats such as terrorism.

“It is necessary to point out that instead of building constructive cooperation to counter the key challenges of our times such as international terrorism, the EU in Brussels prefers to continue its short-sighted game of sanctions,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The European Council of all 28 EU member states rolled over the economic sanctions because peace accords — agreed by France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia at talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk — would not be fully executed by year’s end as required.

“Since the Minsk agreements will not be fully implemented by 31 December 2015, the duration of the sanctions has been prolonged whilst the Council continues its assessment of progress in implementation,” it said in a statement.

EU officials say there can be no let-up in sanctions until Russia ensures pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine stick to the Minsk deal.

Brussels meanwhile blamed Russia for the failure of last-ditch talks meant to ease Moscow’s fears about an EU free trade accord with Ukraine.

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