Surprise, surprise: EU extends Russia sanctions by Six Months

On 21 December 2017, the EU decided to extend its sanctions regime against the Russian Federation for another six months (until 31 July 2018). 

This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 14 December 2017 on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The EU has repeatedly linked the duration of its sanctions to the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements (which should have occurred by 31 December 2015). 

The measures were originally introduced on 31 July 2014 for one year in response to Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. They were strengthened in September 2014. They target the financial, energy and defense sectors, and the trade in so-called dual-use goods. 

The economic sanctions prolonged by this decision include:

  • limiting 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
  • imposing an export and import ban on trade in arms
  • establishing an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia
  • curtailing Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil production and exploration

In addition to these economic sanctions, several EU measures are also in place in response to the crisis in Ukraine including:

  • targeted individual restrictive measures, namely a visa ban and an asset freeze, currently against 150 people and 38 entities until 15 March 2018;
  • restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, currently in place until 23 June 2018.

An overview of the EU sanctions against the Russian Federation can be found here

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