What has happened?
At the end of last year, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision to prolong sanctions against Russia by six months, until 31 July 2020.
What does this mean?
The measures target the financial, energy and defence sectors, as well as the area of dual-use goods.
The sanctions include:
- limiting access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for five major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defence companies;
- imposing an export and import ban on trade in arms;
- establishing an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia; and
- curtailing Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil production and exploration.
The decision follows an update by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the European Council on 12 December 2019 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the decision on maintaining sanctions is linked.
The Minsk Agreements aim to alleviate the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and, as they are not fully implemented, the Council unanimously decided to renew the economic sanctions against Russia.
Since March 2014, the EU has imposed a variety of restrictive measures against Russia in response to its illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, including diplomatic measures, asset freezes and travel restrictions, economic sanctions or restriction on economic co-operation.
In March 2015, the EU decided to align the existing sanctions regime to the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements, which was foreseen to take place by the end of December 2015.
However, since this did not happen, the Council extended the economic sanctions until the end of July 2016.
Since 1 July 2016, the sanctions have been extended for six months successively.
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