The European Union’s decision to extend sanctions against Russia by another six months, to January 31, 2017, is coming into force, the EU Official Journal reads.


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This announcement is purely technical as the political decision to extend the sanctions was made on June 21. In autumn, the European Union plans to have a deep discussion about its relations with Russia and about further plans related to the sanctions.


Three packets of sanctions


There are three independent packets of sanctions against Russia.


The first one is the blacklist against Russian and Ukrainian nationals, whom the EU considers involved in reunification of Crimea and Russia and thus violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory integrity. They all are not allowed to enter the European Union, and their financial assets in Europe should be frozen.


Besides, the blacklist has names of companies, with which European counterparts and businesses are not allowed to support any kinds of relations. Those are mostly authorities and law enforcement bodies of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk Republics. The blacklists are in force to September 10 of the current year.


The second packet lists economic sectoral sanctions, which are extended from today [July 2] to January 31, 2017. These sanctions include bans for investments and trade of technologies with 15 companies in the financial, oil and defense spheres.


And the third packet is made of numerous bans related to Crimea, its citizens and local companies. As for Crimea, the EU bans completely any trade, though fails to explain what Crimea had traded to the European countries before the ban. The EU also blocked issue of Schengen visas to Crimean people having Russian passports. This packet is valid through to June 23, 2017.


Unlike the first two packets – the blacklists and the sectoral economic sanctions – the limitations against Crimea are not related to implementation of the Minsk agreements are a part of so-called strategies not to recognize Crimea, and those sanctions are being extended practically automatically. They are most likely to remain longer than others.


The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier the prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions by the European Union is a short-sighted policy and it will not bring about any changes in Russia’s foreign policy.


“The latest prolongation of the EU’s sectoral economic sanctions, not legitimate from the standpoint of international law, till January 31, 2017 is regarded as an extension of Brussels’s short-sighted policy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “We believe it is absurd to link these discriminatory measures against Russia, which is not a party to the intra-Ukrainian conflict, with its compliance with the Minsk Accords, particularly so, in the current situation, where we see Kiev is unprepared to comply with its own commitments. As a matter of fact, the European Union has made Russia-EU relations a hostage of irresponsible gambling by the Ukrainian authorities.”


“It is at least short-sighted to expect the sanctions will bring about a change in our foreign policy,” the Foreign Ministry said.


In July 2014, the European Union and the US imposed sanctions against Russia over developments in Ukraine and have repeatedly extended and expanded them. The EU suspended talks on the visa-free regime and a new basic cooperation agreement. Overall, the EU blacklisted 151 individuals and 37 entities.