The European Union on Thursday extended sanctions for a further six months against 146 people and 37 entities in connection with the crisis in Ukraine, with the targets including close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The bloc has implemented several rounds of restrictive measures in a bid to halt the violence in eastern Ukraine that erupted in 2014. More than 9,500 people have died in the conflict, according to estimates by the United Nations.
The sanctions extended Thursday were issued over "actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence," according to an EU statement.
The West accuses Russia of supporting pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine, a charge that Moscow denies.
Any assets that the targeted individuals and organizations may have had in the EU will remain frozen until at least September 15, while the individuals are also banned from travelling to the 28-country bloc
The sanctions list includes Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Putin advisor Sergey Glazyev and the billionaire businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a former judo partner of Putin and one of his closest associates.
The entities targeted are mostly located in Crimea and the separatist areas in Ukraine, but also include Russian state-owned companies.
The sanctions extension will come into effect when it is published in the EU's Official Journal on Friday.
The EU has also hit Moscow with economic sanctions, affecting Russian imports and Russian banks' access to European capital markets. Their lifting has been linked to the full implementation of a peace deal for eastern Ukraine.
The measures have severely strained relations between Brussels and Moscow, and have proven controversial because they have inflicted economic pain both on Russia and EU member states.
Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 15:11