EU Extends Russian Sanctions Over Crimea Annexation Until January 2020

In 2014, Russia violated international law when it annexed part of Ukraine. The crisis led to the death of more than 13,000 people, including those in a Malaysian passenger plane. In response to the illegal annexation, the international community, including the United States and European Union imposed heavy sanctions on the country.

In June this year, the European Union renewed the sanctions imposed against Russia and extended them until January 2020. The first sanctions were put in place in March 2014 and were then strengthened after the downing of the Malaysian jet. While Russia denied shooting down the jet, a Dutch-led investigative team concluded that three Russians were involved.

The sanctions put in place against Russia included curbs on Russian energy, defense, and financial sectors. The sanctions also ban European Union countries from doing business with Crimea, the area that Russia annexed. Further, these sanctions extend to a number of Russian citizens who are believed to be beneficiaries of the annexations. 44 Russian companies have also been sanctioned by the EU.

The extension of these sanctions came a few months after the EU extended sanctions related to the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds by Russia.

In addition, the EU announced that it was considering additional sanctions after Russia announced that it would start allowing Ukrainians in Crimea to get Russian passports. Calls for these sanctions have come from Russian hawks countries like Poland and Lithuania. However, passing these sanctions will be a bit difficult because all EU members must vote to support them.

There is also a conflict on the arrests made by both Russia and Ukraine. Russia has arrested 24 Ukrainian sailors while Ukraine has arrested a number of Russians. In a current statement, President Putin said that the release of these sailors must go hand in hand with the release of the Russians held in Ukraine.