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EU agrees to extend Russia sanctions until mid-2017

Ukrainian and EU flags fly in front of Presidential Administration in Kiev

European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to extend the bloc’s main economic sanctions against Russia over the turmoil in Ukraine for six months until mid-2017, diplomats said.

The decision was expected and the formal process to extend the sanctions on Russia’s defence, energy and financial sectors will take place early next week, they said.

The bloc slapped sanctions on Russia after it annexed Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and stepped them up as Moscow went on to support a separatist rebellion in Ukraine’s industrial east.

The conflict is still not resolved and has killed nearly 10,000 people to date.

Poland was among the EU states who wanted a longer extension of the sanctions but Italy, a leading voice in the bloc, argued for seeking ways to reestablish business ties with Moscow.

Despite threats in October by some EU leaders, the bloc has shied away from slapping new sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Syria.

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