OREANDA-NEWS. The heads of state and Government of the European Union during the summit on December 16 decided to extend economic sanctions against the Russian Federation. On Friday, December 17, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, wrote about this on Twitter. According to him, the decision was made «unanimously».

«We call on Russia to fulfill its part of the deal and proceed to the implementation of the Minsk agreements», he stressed. «The European Council underlines the urgent need for Russia to reduce tensions created by the build-up of troops near its borders with Ukraine and aggressive rhetoric», the statement said after the talks. The sanctions have been extended for six months — until July 31, 2022. Formally, the decision on them will be fixed at the end of January 2022 after the end of the current restrictions.

The EU leaders reaffirmed their full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. «The response to any further military aggression against Ukraine will be large-scale consequences and a severe price, including restrictive measures coordinated with partners», the communique stressed. At the same time, the European Council expressed support for diplomatic efforts, in particular in the «Normandy format», with a view to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

EU sanctions were first introduced in July 2014 due to Moscow's aggressive actions against Ukraine. It affects the financial, energy and defense sectors of the Russian economy. In March 2015, EU leaders decided to link the lifting of restrictive measures with the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Since it was not implemented by the end of December 2015, the EU Council extended economic sanctions until July 31, 2016. After that, it was repeatedly extended for 6 months. The decision was made each time after evaluating the implementation of the agreements. At this stage, the penalties are valid until January 31, 2022.