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This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of June 22-23, 2017 on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This paved the way for the renewal of sanctions for a further six months, the European Council said in a press release.

The Council formalized this decision on Wednesday by written procedure and, in line with the rule for all such decisions, unanimously.

The measures were originally introduced on July 31, 2014, for one year in response to Russia's actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. They were strengthened in September 2014. They target the financial, energy and defense sectors, and the area of dual-use goods.

Read alsoEU agrees to extend sanctions against Russia – TuskOn 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. 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 this decision include: limiting 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; imposing an export and import ban on trade in arms; establishing an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia; curtailing Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil production and exploration," reads the report.

In addition to these economic sanctions, 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 150 people and 37 entities until September 15, 2017, as well as 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, 2018.