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By extending sanctions EU misses opportunity to improve interaction with Russia — diplomat

On Thursday, the European Union extended economic sanctions against Russia expiring at the turn of July by six months
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova  Artyom Geodakyan/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, July 5. /TASS/. The decision of the European Union to extend sanctions against Russia hampers the development of constructive cooperation, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"We consider the political decision taken by the heads of state and government of the member states of the European Union to extend unilateral restrictions against our country in the financial and economic sectors as another missed opportunity for a constructive revision of the EU's foreign policy approaches towards Russia," the diplomat said.

"We regret that the member states once again lacked the determination to admit the artificial nature of the linking the entire set of Russia-EU relations with full implementation of the Minsk agreements, which is deliberately blocked by the Kiev authorities. Business community of the EU and ordinary citizens will still have to suffer because of Brussels stance which lacks realism and flexibility, "she added.

On Thursday, the European Union extended economic sanctions against Russia expiring at the turn of July by six months.

Speaking during her briefing on Thursday, Zakharova also said that the EU’s new appeal to Russia to participate in the efforts to establish the truth, justice and perpetrators of the crash of the Boeing plane in the east of Ukraine was "absurd."

"That sounds outrageous because Russia, unlike Ukraine, which also took part in the investigation, did it best to contribute to the establishment of real causes of the tragedy and granted critically important data on radar surveillance at the moment of the crash," she stressed.

She called on to those who are trying to force Russia to admit its responsibility for the tragedy to explain first inconsistencies between the preliminary conclusions of the investigation and the data provided by the Russian side.

The Boeing-777 passenger plane operated by Malaysian Airlines crashed on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in the east of the Donetsk region. As a result, 298 people, citizens of 10 states, were killed in the crash. The parties to the armed conflict in Donbass accused each other of being complicit in the tragedy.

On May 24, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisting of representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, released its update on the criminal investigation into the MH17 crash. According to the JIT, "the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17, originates from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade (hereinafter 53rd brigade), a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation."

Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected all the accusations saying that none of the Russian Army’s air defense missile systems had ever crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the investigation was reminiscent of the Skripal case as there was no evidence.

Nevertheless, on May 25, Australia and the Netherlands issued a statement saying that they "hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17." "The Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17. The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable," the statement reads.