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EU leaders extend economic sanctions against Russia

European Union leaders have agreed to extend the bloc’s economic sanctions against Russia for another six months.

The EU slapped the sanctions against the Kremlin for its alleged support for pro-Russia militia fighting against the Ukrainian government since 2014.

“EU leaders extended economic sanctions against Russia for 6 months,” the European Council said in a statement on Friday after the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.

The decision was made after a “very short discussion” on Ukraine, a European official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In the summit statement, the leaders also reiterated their “full support” for a UN resolution regarding a plane crash in Ukraine in 2014.

In July 2014, a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing 298 people aboard it.

The EU, which blamed pro-Russian fighters for the incident, called on Russia to “accept its responsibility and fully cooperate with all efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability”.

An EU-brokered peace deal, backed by Russia and Ukraine, was first reached in 2014 and then re-worked in 2015, but has been violated on regularly, with Kiev and the Ukrainian militants blaming each other.

The war in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

The EU has also slapped sanctions on Moscow over Crimea, joined Russia after a referendum in 2014.

The sanctions against Crimea, among other punishments, forbade EU companies from supplying energy infrastructure to the Black Sea peninsula.

Meanwhile, Russia’s energy ministry said on Friday it had conducted the first test of a German-made electricity turbine that was installed in Crimea in contravention of the EU sanctions.

The German engineering company Siemens claimed Russia sent four turbines built by the German firm to Crimea without its knowledge.

The shipments has angered Berlin and led Brussels to impose punitive measures against Russians involved in the deliveries.

Crimea has been hit by regular blackouts since it was cut off from Ukraine’s national electricity grid.

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