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Photograph: Photo by Yanni Koutsomitis, used under CC BY

The European Union on Thursday extended sanctions issued over the crisis in Ukraine for a further six months, 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 9,000 people have died in the conflict, according to estimates by the United Nations.

The sanctions extended Thursday were issued over actions that "undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine," according to the EU.

The West has accused Russia of supporting pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine, a charge that Moscow denies.

Any assets that the targeted 146 people and 37 entities 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.

Three names were removed from the sanctions list - which was last renewed in September - because they have since died, the EU said.

The list includes Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Putin adviser 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 Saturday.

The EU has also issued asset freezes against people suspected of embezzling Ukrainian state funds, targeting the country's former president Viktor Yanukovych, among others. These measures were extended last week.

But the hardest-hitting - and most controversial - sanctions the EU has implemented are economic measures against Moscow, meant to hamper Russian imports and Russian banks' access to European capital markets. These are up for renewal in July.

The lifting of these economic measures has been linked to the full implementation of a peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

The Minsk agreement was supposed to be implemented by the end of the year, but independent monitors are reporting almost daily violations.

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