Russia slams EU for 'short-sighted' sanctions extension

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of Russian ambassadors in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of Russian ambassadors in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Friday (July 1) blasted the European Union for extending economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, insisting the punitive measures would not make Moscow change course.

The foreign ministry said in a statement that it viewed the move as "a continuation of the short-sighted policy of Brussels" and that it was "absurd" to link them to a failure to make progress on a peace deal to end fighting in eastern Ukraine.

"In essence the European Union has with its own hands made EU-Russian relations hostage to the irresponsible games of the Ukrainian authorities," the statement said.

The EU measures target the oil, financial and defence sectors of the Russian economy and were first imposed after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014, blamed on pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.

"On 1 July 2016, the (European) Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 January 2017," the 28-nation bloc said in a statement.

The EU said in a tweet in Russian that it was rolling over the sanctions because the provisions of the February 2015 Minsk peace deal aimed at ending the Ukraine conflict were "not fully implemented."

Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of running the insurgency in east Ukraine that has cost the lives of nearly 9,500 people since April 2014, but the Kremlin denies its involvement.

Western sanctions - along with a slide in oil prices - have helped push Russia's economy into recession, but European producers are also suffering from a retaliatory food embargo imposed by Moscow.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday officially signed off on extending the embargo until the end of 2017.