EU prolongs Crimea sanctions
The EU on Friday prolonged until 2016 a sanctions package over Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, days after rolling over a series of damaging punitive measures against Moscow for its role in the Ukraine crisis.
The European Council said the 28-nation bloc continues to "condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and remains committed to fully implement its non-recognition policy."
Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 following the ouster of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev, saying the peninsula had voted overwhelming in favour of returning to its Russian homeland.
In response, the EU imposed asset freezes and visa bans against pro-Moscow rebel leaders and Russian figures it said had conspired to strip Crimea from Ukraine via a fraudulent referendum.
As the Ukraine crisis deepened, the bloc widened the sanctions list over Crimea, at the same time as imposing economic sanctions against Russia, to ban imports from and investment in the peninsula.
Friday's decision covered the sanctions agreed in June 2014 which also included bans on cruise ships using Crimean ports and restrictions on exports of telecommunications and transport equipment.
These sanctions will now run until June 2016, taking them past the economic measures targeting Russia's banks, oil and defence sectors which the EU agreed earlier to extend for another six months to January 2016.
© 2015 AFP