Merkel announces the extension of European sanctions on Russia because of Ukraine for six months

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Friday that the European Union decided to extend the economic sanctions imposed on Russia against the background of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimea, for six months.

Merkel said in a press briefing following a virtual summit of European Union leaders, that the sanctions, which affect the entire Russian economic sectors and are supposed to expire at the end of the month, "will be extended for six months."

Speaking about the Minsk agreements that are intended to impose peace in eastern Ukraine, she considered that "progress (on this level) has not reached the level that allows us to recommend that sanctions not be extended."

The sanctions were imposed after 298 people were killed in a commercial airliner crash of Malaysia Airlines after it was hit by a missile over Ukraine in July 2014. Since then, it has been extended every six months.

The extension of this time comes at a time when Russian-German relations are strained after the German public prosecutor accused Russia on Thursday of masterminding the assassination of a Georgian citizen in a park in central Berlin in 2019, which Russia denies.

The German government has warned against sanctions against Moscow against the background of this case, which was compared to the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergey Scribal in Britain in 2018.

Merkel has always sought to emphasize the importance of dialogue with Russia, but she was outraged in May when she revealed that Russia had targeted her and her deputies in pirate attacks. She said she had "solid evidence" of "shameful" espionage attempts.

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