EU Unlikely to Extend Russia Sanctions Next Week

European Union leaders are unlikely to reach agreement at next week’s summit to prolong economic sanctions on Russia that expire in July, a senior EU official said Friday.

New sanctions on Russia also are off the table because EU governments want to give a chance to a fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.

But some of the EU’s 28 member states had pushed for an early decision on extending sanctions on Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. The sanctions were adopted last July over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

While leaders will discuss sanctions, the senior EU official said a majority would probably want to delay discussing their renewal until July.

“I don’t think there is unanimity at all for the rollover of sanctions” expiring in summer, the official said, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said Friday that new or extended EU sanctions against Russia would not help the cease-fire.

“The cease-fire needs to be supported and we will hardly support it by saying that we will bring some new and further and further sanctions,” Fico said in Prague.

US sanctions

The United States targeted eight Ukrainian separatists and a Russian bank with sanctions and announced more non-lethal aid for Ukraine on Wednesday after accusing Russian-backed rebels of breaking a European-brokered ceasefire.

The EU is divided on sanctions. In the past, Fico has called them “meaningless and counterproductive.”

EU governments agreed Friday to prolong sanctions on a list of Ukrainian and Russian individuals and companies accused of undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

The asset freezes and travel bans on 150 people and 37 organizations were extended for a further six months, until September 15. Details will be published in the EU’s official journal on Saturday.

The decision was a formality after EU foreign ministers agreed in January to extend the sanctions.