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At the end of June, the European Council extended the sanctions against Russia put in place over the country’s stance on Ukraine and the Crimea.
The unanimous decision of the council put in place sanctions that target specific sectors of the Russian economy and will run until 31 January 2018.
The move brought an immediate response from the Russian government, which in turn extend the sanctions banning certain products entering the Russian market, in particular meat, livestock and agricultural produce.
The EU decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 22-23 June 2017 on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This paved the way for the renewal of sanctions for a further six months.
In response to the measures, the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said: “We regret that our European partners continue this short-sighted policy towards Russia. Politics have again taken the upper hand over the economy and, ultimately, over common sense.
“We will have to respond in kind to this situation.
“Yesterday we discussed this matter with the President, and the Government will now submit a proposal asking him to extend the response measures for one more year, until 31 December 2018.
“Our position is public knowledge and it has not changed: the policy of mutual economic restrictions does not have a future, yet we have to respond to protect our national interests and to protect a very important sector of the Russian economy –response measures are designed to protect our agriculture industry.
“Our farmers have asked us more than once to extend these measures and also to outline the perspective for their activities in the near future.
“We are doing this now, and I am confident that our farmers will be able to use these favourable opportunities to the full.”
The sanctions have seen trade between Russia and the EU dropped by over $180 billion between 2013 and last year and the measures have severely affected the Russian economy – particularly in the agricultural sector.
The cost to EU agriculture and farming has been estimated at €5.5 billion with dairy, pork, beef and fruit and vegetables most affected.
The European farming group Copa Cogeca has called on the EU to step up its efforts to find a solution to the situation because of the continued damage to EU farming.
The EU measures were originally introduced on 31 July 2014 for one year in response to Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine. They were strengthened in September 2014.
They target the financial, energy and defence sectors, and the area of dual-use goods.
On 19 March 2015, the European Council agreed to link the duration of the sanctions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, which was foreseen to take place by 31 December 2015. Since this did not happen, and given that the Minsk agreements have still not been fully implemented, the Council has extended the sanctions.
The economic sanctions prolonged by the latest EU decision include:
In addition to these economic sanctions, several EU measures are also in place in response to the crisis in Ukraine including: