The European Council said on Monday that the European Union (EU) decided to extend economic sanctions against Russia including measures on energy, banking and defence sectors until the end of July 2016.
"Since the Minsk agreements will not be fully implemented by 31 December 2015, the duration of the sanctions has been prolonged whilst the Council continues its assessment of progress in implementation,” the Council said in a statement.
The 28-member-bloc and US applied sanctions concerning Russian banking, the defense and energy sectors began in April 2014. The measures were imposed after the reunion of Crimea with Russia and the acceleration of the Ukranian crisis.
According to some diplomats in Brussels, this could be the last time punitive measures would be applied against Russia’s economy if Kremlin complies with conditions.
On the other hand, according to Interfax news agency report, Russia's foreign minister said on Monday that the EU’s sanctions would encourage Kiev to infringe the Minsk peace deal over the Ukraine conflict.
The ceasefire agreement was first sealed in the Belarussian capital Minsk last September and the parties clinched the armistice again under the monitoring mission of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the middle of February.
The leaders assured there will be peace and stability in the region by confirming withdrawal of heavy weapons despite some sporadic ceasefire violation that has been continuing since February.
The relations between Russia and the West had stretched over the Ukraine crisis, particularly when Moscow annexed Crimea last year and gave its support to separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
Following the crisis that escalated in eastern Ukraine, the West had imposed sanctions which forced Moscow and the pro-Russian separatist to come to the table in Minsk.
Russia being a major oil dependent country, has been suffering from a battered economy in the recent years amid a decrease in oil prices and Western sanctions.