By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - The European Union on Thursday extended economic sanctions against Russia for another six months.
“The Council (of the European Union) today decided to prolong the restrictive measures currently targeting specific economic sectors of the Russian Federation by six months, until 31 July 2022,” the EU institution representing member states announced in a statement.
EU heads of states and governments had already approved the continuation of sanctions during their last summit in December for failing to live up to its commitments to the Minsk Agreement meant to establish peace in eastern Ukraine.
The bloc has been imposing sanctions on Russia's financial, military, and energy sectors since 2014, accusing Moscow of destabilizing activities in Ukraine.
Under the restrictions, certain Russian banks and companies have limited access to the bloc’s capital markets, while EU operators are prohibited from providing services to Russian financial institutions.
The EU also restricts trade in defense-related goods and sensitive technologies that could be used in Russia's energy sector.
In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained in the past seven years.
The EU has repeatedly condemned the continued Russian military buildup in and around Ukraine in recent months and has stood up for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.