Luxembourg (AFP) – The European Union on Monday rolled over for another year sanctions imposed to protest Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, which the bloc deems illegal.
The Crimea sanctions prohibit certain exports and imports, and ban investment and tourism services by EU-based companies there.
“The Council (of member states) extended the restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia until 23 June 2018,” a statement said.
“The EU continues to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and remains committed to fully implement its non-recognition policy,” the Council statement added.
The sanctions were imposed in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 as the Ukraine crisis deepened with the ouster of a pro-Moscow government.
Efforts to resolve the conflict have failed repeatedly, with the death toll rising to more than 10,000.
The EU insists Russia must be held to account for its support of the rebels but Moscow says Brussels is at fault for aiding and abetting the overthrow of a legitimate government in Kiev.
In addition to the Crimea measures, the EU imposed damaging economic sanctions against Russia after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014, blamed by the EU on the rebels.
The EU extended these sanctions for another six months in December and they are widely expected to be rolled over again in July.
In March, the 28-nation bloc also extended for six months its asset freezes and travel bans on Ukraine and Russian figures held responsible for supporting the rebels.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a tweet, hailed the EU’s move on Monday but said “the price” Moscow should pay “for this attempted annexation should be higher.”
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said that for Russia, the sanctions were not “legitimate.”
“These sanctions not only harm us but also the countries that initiate them,” he argued.