Published: Sat, December 17, 2016
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

European Union officials: EU to extend Russian Federation sanctions for 6 months

"When tensions run high, as today, it is even more important to have direct dialogue with Russia", Stoltenberg said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

It means restrictive measures targeting Russia's financial, energy and defence sectors, as well as goods that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, remain in force until at least the middle of next year.

The sanctions, first adopted in July 2014 in connection with Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and support for separatists in the country's east, had been set to expire on January 31.

Donald Trump's shock United States election victory added to the doubts, given his apparently softer line on Russian Federation, prompting a debate over whether they should be extended for six months or three.

The 28-strong bloc imposed economic sanctions on Russian Federation after the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

The EU-Ukraine Association agreement was rejected by Dutch voters in a referendum in April. Earlier, France and Germany complained that the Minsk peace deal for Ukraine was still not being fulfilled.

Dutch voters in April turned down an agreement between the European Union and Ukraine to strengthen political and economic ties between Brussels and Kyiv, a deal that many interpret as a first step toward European Union membership.

That amounts to a series of declarations of what the EU-Ukraine deal is not - namely, conferring candidate status on Ukraine as a potential EU member, or granting Ukraine nationals the right to work or live within the EU.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the decision: "I am sincerely grateful for unwavering unity and solidarity of the European leaders in restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Crimea".

Stoltenberg gave no specific reason for convening the NRC on Monday but there has been growing speculation a meeting was on the cards, stoked by US President-elect Donald Trump's more conciliatory approach to Moscow.

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