Representatives of European Union member nations voted on Friday to extend a group of already instituted sanctions against Russia until June 31, 2016. The extension will become official on Monday, December 21, provided that no member state objects prior to that time.
The sanctions to be extended are those that were put into place following the Russian annexation of Crimea and its following support of the rebel insurgency in the Donbass region of Ukraine. Officials of the European Union have long said that extension was a likely possibility due to a general perception that Russia had not lived up to its end of agreements requiring a cessation of Russian involvement in Ukraine.
Aleksey Ulyukaev, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development, stated that the extension of the sanctions had already been anticipated by the Russian government and that such a move would not harm the Russian economy. Many European politicians, however, have expressed a desire for the sanctions to be lifted due to mutual economic benefit for both the EU and Russia. Difficulty in buying Russian gas and oil has presented economic difficulties in much of Europe and has stripped Ukraine of much of its revenue by removing its status as an intermediary between Russia and the EU. Similarly, the lack of a market for Russian energy exports has severely damaged the country’s economy and caused the ruble to weaken in the international currency market, increasing the cost of importing goods into Russia.
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