BRUSSELS, January 29. /TASS/. Foreign ministers of EU member-states will most likely endorse prolongation of the anti-Russian sanctions until September, a diplomatic source in Brussels told TASS on Thursday on the sidelines of the ministers’ conference on the situation in Ukraine.
The sanctions were originally introduced until March 2015. A proposal on the prolongation was endorsed earlier on Thursday at a meeting of permanent representatives of the member-states to the EU and was included as a separate item in the draft final document of the conference.
On Wednesday, Greece blocked a proposal to prolong the sanctions through to December 2015 at the stage of consultations.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
The West announced new sectoral penalties against Russia in late July 2014 over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.
A system of import substitution had to be introduced in Russia in connection with imposition of Western sanctions on Russia for developments in Ukraine and Moscow’s countersanctions.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said October 30, 2014 that while pursuing a policy of import substitution, Russia should not confine itself to replacement of goods imports but should also focus on substitution of foreign developments.
In his address to the Federal Assembly, Russia's parliament, on December 4, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the import substitution policy is among the country’s long-term priorities.