EU to Extend Sanctions against Russia

European Union nations are set to renew sanctions against Russia for six more months amid a stalemate in efforts to decisively end two years of fighting in eastern Ukraine between the army and Russian-backed rebels, six European officials said.

Trade and investment curbs to punish Russia for its takeover of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine in 2014 are set to lapse on July 31 and require a unanimous 28-nation vote to be prolonged.

The move comes amid a deadlock over fulfilling the conditions of the Minsk agreement, including granting more autonomy to the breakaway regions. The four countries involved in the peace process—Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France—are discussing proposals to create demilitarized areas along the front lines and set up phone links between the two sides to prevent escalations, two people close to the talks said. With no end in sight, what many already call a frozen conflict is looking increasingly permanent.

The EU, together with the U.S., imposed restrictions on Russia’s access to international capital markets and energy technology that along with the oil-price collapse helped trigger the country’s longest recession in two decades. The measures, a response to the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for the insurgency, also provoked a Russian counter-ban on most European foodstuffs, causing billions of dollars of losses for exporters.

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