The U.S. and EU look to extend sanctions on Russia

The United States will maintain sanctions against Russia, and the European Union should do the same, according to the U.S. Department of State’s coordinator for sanctions policy, Daniel Fried.

EU leaders will hold discussions at the end of June to decide whether to extend sanctions that expire in July. In a recent interview with German newspaper Die Welt, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said she expects sanctions to be renewed because full implementation of the Minsk agreements has so far “not been reached.”

The United States and Europe imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014 in response to its occupation of Crimea and incursions into eastern Ukraine. Russia’s actions have resulted in the deaths of 9,300 people and displaced another 1.3 million.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on May 23, Fried said that sanctions — which include travel bans on Russian officials, cronies and separatists; an import-export ban on goods, services and technology from or to Crimea; and economic restrictions on Russian banks, energy firms and defense companies — have “prevented things from being much, much worse” in Ukraine.

Fried said the sanctions against Russia temper its support for separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine and keep Moscow engaged in the Minsk peace process. Keeping pressure on Russia will give Ukraine breathing room to carry out political and economic reforms, he said.

Fried said the United States looks forward to winding down the sanctions once Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements.

Follow the conversation on Ukraine @UnitedforUkr and sign up for weekly updates on United for Ukraine. This article draws on reports from the Associated Press.