These measures were introduced on July 31, 2014, initially for one year in response to Russia's actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. They were reinforced in September 2014.

"They target the financial, energy and defense sectors, and the area of dual-use goods," the statement said.

Radio Liberty's Brussels-based journalist Rikard Jozwiak tweeted that the decision would be published in the EU Official Journal on Tuesday, December 20.

On March 19, 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 December 31, 2015.

Read alsoMogherini: EU to extend Russian sanctions, ready for deal-oriented relations with U.S.Since the Minsk agreements were not fully implemented by December 31, 2015, the Council extended the sanctions until July 31, 2016, and on July 1, 2016, until January 31, 2017.

"Having assessed the implementation of the Minsk agreements at the European Council meeting of December 15, the EU heads of state and government paved the way to renew the sanctions for a further six months, until July 31, 2017. The Council formalized this decision on December 19, 2016 by written procedure and as it is the rule for all decisions on prolongation of restrictive measures, unanimously," the statement said.

The economic sanctions prolonged by this decision notably limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for five major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defense companies. They also impose an export and import ban on trade in arms and establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia. Further, the sanctions curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil production and exploration. In addition to these economic restrictions, several EU measures are also in place in response to the crisis in Ukraine including: targeted individual restrictive measures, namely a visa ban and an asset freeze, currently against 152 people and 37 entities until March 15, 2017; restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, currently in place until June 23, 2017.