The decision to extend the economic sectoral anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) by six months, until January 31, 2018, has come into force, the Council of the European Union said in its resolution published in the EU’s Official Journal on Thursday.

According to the EU, this decision followed a report by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the EU summit on the implementation of the Minsk agreements on June 22-23. That paved the way for extending the sanctions for six months, the Council of the European Union said.

This is a purely technical move, since a political decision to extend sanctions was made at the EU summit on June 22. The package of anti-Russian economic restrictive measures was last extended in January 2017 until July 31.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov earlier told reporters that the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions cannot help Brussels achieve its goals in relations with Moscow, and the decision on their extension is regrettable. “It has long been clear to everyone that sanctions are counterproductive, that they are not able to tackle any tasks assigned by the European Union in terms of its relations with Russia,” he said. “Independent EU experts have repeatedly provided figures showing that the sanctions and our countermeasures affect, above all, the economies of the EU member-countries.”

The European Union began to impose sanctions against Russia over developments in Ukraine in March 2014. The decision about anti-Russian restrictive measures was made at the EU’s emergency summit on March 6, 2014. It was also announced that the Russia-EU summit scheduled for June 2014 had been cancelled and negotiations on a visa-free travel and a new framework cooperation agreement had been suspended. Later, the EU imposed three packages of sanctions on Russia, specifically, visa restrictions against some Russian state-owned oil, defense and financial companies (extended until January 31, 2018) along with restrictive measures against Crimea (extended until June 23, 2018).

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