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BRUSSELS, December 12. /TASS/. The European Union’s sanctions against Russia, which term expires on January 31, 2016, are bound to be extended - whether discussed or without a discussion, a source close to the EU Council told TASS on Saturday.
"It is as simple as this: the EU Council has related the limiting measures with implementation of the Minsk accords. It is not an issue to be discussed, it is a political objective we have now. By and large, the Minsk accords are not implemented as of today, thus sanctions are to be extended. They say, for another six months," the diplomat said commenting on numerous speculations in the media around the issue.
A formal decision, the source said, should come from the EU Council, though this may be done differently.
"At present, the work continues at the level of working groups. The plans are, the EU ambassadors approve it (decision) in a written procedure, though later on the procedure was postponed as the work still continues. Nobody is really in a hurry, since the sanctions expire only in late January."
The source said the issue of extending the anti-Russian sanctions is not on the agenda of the EU Council due on December 14 in Brussels.
"No, this topic is not on the agenda. I do not think any discussion will take place, and the reason is very simple: the agreement is the sanctions will remain until the Minsk accords are implemented. In fact, there is nothing to discuss, which is clear to everyone."
While replying to a question when a decision may be taken, the source said: "It is tough to say now on what day, as it is not clear yet what procedure will be used. But I do not think it will happen very soon. Anyway, there is quite a time to January 31."
While commenting on the media discussing sanctions, the source said "the very fact of the sanctions’ extension is a ready decision now."
"Right, some EU countries speak for discussing the sanctions package at the level of ministers (including Italy, Luxemburg - TASS), others are ready to extend them automatically so that not to waste time discussing the Ukrainian crisis at the last meetings of this year, which will be aimed at settlement of many problems related to migration; however, as of today not a single EU country out of the list of 28 has spoken against extension of the limitation measures," the source said.
Another European diplomat also confirmed to TASS the sanctions "are bound to be extended." He said the issues of milder or tougher sanctions "even have not been raised." "Nobody is going to review each of the sanctions. This work is very effort-consuming, and it is not reasonable to begin it under the conditions, where the situation in the zone of the Ukrainian conflict has not changed radically in either direction," he said.
The West, inspired by the United States, subjected Russian officials and companies to the first batch of sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February.
New, sectoral, penalties against Russia were announced in late July over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia’s alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled southeast.
Russia responded with imposing on August 6, 2014 a ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
The list of products whose imports Russia banned as part of its response to Western nations includes cattle meat (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), pork (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), poultry meat and all poultry edible by-products, salted meat, pickled meat, dried meat, smoked meat, fish, clams and other water invertebrates, milk and dairy products, vegetables, edible roots and tuber crops. The list also contains fruit and nuts, sausage and analogous meat products, meat by-products or blood, as well as products made of them, ready-to-eat products including cheeses and cottage-cheese based on vegetable fats.
The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea - because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, - andMoscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.