MOSCOW, December 19 (RAPSI) – The European Union has extended economic sanctions against Russia until July 31 of the next year, announcement from the Council of European Union reads on Monday.

According to the Council, key condition set for lifting the sanctions, namely full compliance with a pact aimed at stopping the armed conflict in Ukraine, the Minsk Agreements, is yet to be fulfilled. Since this condition was not met, on December 15 leaders of the European Union decided to extend anti-Russian sanctions at the European Council meeting. On December 19, this decision was formalized and became final.

In addition to these sanctions, the Council of Europe named accompanying measures currently employed by the European Union against Russia. Among them are targeted individual restrictive measures against 152 people and 37 entities, which are in place until March 15, 2017, and restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, in place until June 23, 2017.

In the spring of 2014, the EU, the United States and Canada slapped the first sanctions on Russian companies, banks and politicians, freezing their bank accounts, denying them entry and refusing to buy Russian products. The move was linked to the conflict in Ukraine. Among the companies affected by these sanctions are several of top Russian companies: Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank and others.

In June 2015, the EU foreign ministers approved amendments to the EU decision on sectoral restrictions, thereby extending economic sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2016.  In 2016, the penalties were expanded and extended yet again.

In response, in August 2014, the Russian government introduced a year-long ban on agricultural imports from the EU, the US, Canada and several other countries that imposed sanctions on Russia. Blacklisted food imports included meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables. In late June 2015, Russia extended the embargo until August 5, 2016.  This June ban was extended yet again until December 31, 2017.