The EU has extended, today, economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy to 31 January 2017.  The extension is set out in Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1071.

The sanctions concern the financial, energy and defence sectors, as well as dual-use goods, and have been extended because the Council has assessed that the Minsk agreements concerning military activity in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine have not been respected.

The sanctions consist of:

  • Limits to access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for 5 major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defence companies;
  • An export and import ban on trade in arms;
  • An export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia;
  • Limit Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that could be used for oil production and exploration.

A decision was taken last week to extend other sanctions in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to 23 June.

Targeted individual restrictive measures (asset freeze and travel restrictions,) currently against individuals and entities introduced because of “actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” and for misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds, remain in place until 15 September 2016.  These were renewed in March.

A number of Foreign Ministers have spoken out in favour of lifting the sanctions against Russia as soon as possible.  It was not certain, ahead of today’s meetings, whether the EU line was not softening towards Russia.  However, Council adopts and extends sanctions on a unanimity basis and, for the time being, the “all-or-nothing approach” of insisting the Minsk agreements must be implemented fully, appears to be holding.  It is not yet clear what impact the UK withdrawal from the EU (“Brexit”) may have on the EU’s ability to maintain sanctions in the longer term.