The EU on Friday officially extended damaging economic sanctions against Russia by a half year due to a lack of progress in resolving the eastern Ukrainian conflict.
The measures affect the oil, financial, and defense sectors of the Russian economy and were first imposed after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014. This act of aggression was blamed on pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.
"On 1 July 2016, the (European) Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until Jan. 31, 2017," the European Union said in a statement.
The EU tweeted in Russian that it was extending the sanctions because the provisions of the Feb. 2015 Minsk peace deal aimed at ending the Ukraine conflict were "not fully implemented."
EU ambassadors agreed on the extension in principle on June 21.
According to officials French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefed fellow EU leaders on the development of the Minsk agreements at a summit this week.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite cautioned that the sanctions would not be lifted until the conflict was resolved. "What goes around, comes around. Sanctions continue until Minsk agreements are fully implemented," she tweeted.
Moscow has struck back with its own embargo against Western food items, which were extended on Wednesday until the end of 2017.
The sanctions, as well as Russia’s own embargo, have impacted the Russian economy, as the embargo has raised food prices and lowered quality, but has additionally given a boost for some domestic producers, the AFP stated.
Several EU member states have been cautious about the controversial sanctions since the beginning. Germany, Italy, and Hungary have feared of getting locked in a damaging stand-off with Russia, a major political and economic partner.