The EU has linked the lifting of the sanctions to full implementation of a peace deal in east Ukraine, where more than 9,000 people have been killed in fighting between Kiev’s forces and Russia-backed separatist rebels since April 2014.
Some diplomats say this might be the last time the punitive measures on Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors get rolled over in their entirety as France and some other EU states want to re-engage with Moscow on such issues as fighting terrorism and seeking an end to the war in Syria.
The sanctions were provisionally extended by EU envoys last Friday and were confirmed with the lapse of a noon deadline on Monday after no member state raised any objections.
Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said EU sanctions were “completely unacceptable and ineffective”.
“Gradually those countries that initiated the sanctions are realizing this and we see there’s a major discussion about it in Europe. Sooner or later, we expect common sense to prevail and a decision to be taken to revoke this,’ he said.
The sanctions, combined with weak global oil prices, have weighed on the Russian economy, which contracted by 4.1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter.
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