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(GPA) Brussels – This week at an EU summit, top representatives from the European nations voted to extend the sanctions against Russia.

Just days after French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly stated that they supported a renewal and extension of sanctions on Russia, the leaders of the EU voted to renew the sanctions on Russia through July of 2017. The sanctions have been in place since 2014 as a result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Flickr: verkeorg
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Flickr: verkeorg

Some EU members were looking to broaden the sanctions even further to punish Russia for “alleged crimes” during their campaign in Syria. This move was blocked by several EU members, lead by Italy. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the extension of sanctions concerning “the situation in Syria and Aleppo” would’ve been “a mistake.” Italy also played a key role in blocking the proposal by Poland to extend the sanctions by a year instead of six months.

Italy has one of the smaller economies in the EU and is currently hurting financially which gives them motivation to stand up due to the financial gains they would get from reopening market ties with Russia. Italians alone have lost out on 3.5 billion euros of business with Russia since the sanctions began.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was of course happy about the sanctions on Russia, issuing a statement on his website that saying he was “sincerely grateful for the unwavering unity and solidarity of the European leaders in the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” and that “Despite manipulation and hybrid propaganda,” Russia has been “unable to escape responsibility for the continued aggression in Donbass and unwillingness to fulfill the Minsk agreements.”

Poroshenko left out that the Minsk ceasefires have been violated by not just the rebels in eastern Ukraine, but by his own security forces as well. The sanctions may continue but so will Russia’s punishment by way of cutting the gas flow to Ukraine for the Russophobic agenda coming from Kiev. Kiev is only further isolating itself by encouraging these sanctions. Ukraine is not currently a part of any formal process to further ease trade regulations with the EU and by encouraging attacks on the Russian economy only further cut themselves off from their most profitable market.

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