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The European Union (EU) on Thursday, extended economic sanctions against Russia over the role of the country in the Ukraine conflict until the end of January 2019.

The sanctions were first adopted in July 2014 in light of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, as well as its support for separatists in the country’s east.

The EU has tied easing the sanctions to Russia implementing the Minsk peace agreement.

The peace agreement calls for unconditional ceasefire and for both sides to pull back heavy weapons from the frontline in eastern Ukraine.

The EU decision to extend sanctions was taken in principle at an EU summit recently.

It came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron updated other European leaders on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreement.

Some measures to de-escalate the conflict were agreed at a meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin in Berlin last month.

However, the talks did not lead to a breakthrough.

The sanctions against Russia target the financial, energy and defence industries, impeding Russian banks’ access to EU markets and limiting Russian access to certain EU imports.

According to the UN, over 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, since 2014.

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