“This is a jaded record. But the farce is that this happens not on the sidelines but instead publicly — they admit that this is destructive and in fact devastating for the European Union itself, which is now dealing with Brexit and other processes,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying in a press conference on Thursday.
A day earlier, TASS, citing an unnamed diplomat in the European Council, reported that the bloc had agreed on yet another six-month prolongation of the restrictive measures against Russian individuals and legal entities that were due to expire on September 15.
The unnamed diplomat further said that the European Council would officially approve the decision next week and it would then be published in the Official Journal of the bloc and enter into force.
“Prolonging sanctions against Russia and feeling pressure from Washington, in particular on the issue of energy cooperation with Russia, is counter-productive for the EU itself,” Zakharova further said, referencing the accusation that the EU has been under US pressure in applying sanctions against Russia.
“But it was a decision made by the EU, even though Washington exerted pressure. I think they should answer the question themselves on why they need it and for how long it will continue, and we will not interfere,” Zakharova added.
Relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated since 2014, when Crimea, then Ukrainian territory, joined Russia following a referendum in which more than 90 percent of participants voted in favor of the move.
In siding with Ukraine, the EU and some other Western countries have followed Washington’s lead in leveling several rounds of sanctions against Moscow.
The EU has so far imposed several Crimea-related packages of sanctions against Russia and Crimea. European businesses are prohibited from maintaining any ties with Crimea, as well.