– Luis Ramirez (VOA)
European Union leaders meeting Thursday in Brussels agreed to extend sanctions on Russia for another six months, EU officials said.
The one-day summit, which ran late into the evening, capped a turbulent year for the 28-member group as questions loom over the integrity and future of the organization.
The decision to extend sanctions on Russia came as no surprise. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said this week that they would support extending sanctions in light of Russia’s failure to abide by the Minsk agreements on Ukraine.
The decision, to be announced officially in the next few days, came despite growing pressure among investors and energy interests in Europe, including within Germany itself, for sanctions to be rolled back.
Analysts said the poor momentum for continued actions to punish Russia had been spurred on by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s stated willingness to work more closely with Russia to resolve conflicts and combat terrorism.
Analysts had said the EU would be unlikely to announce any new sanctions against Moscow over Syria, but EU leaders Thursday strongly condemned the Syrian government’s Russian-backed assault on parts of Aleppo and called for a halt to the violence.
“I have been talking constantly to Russia, and Russia makes commitments that it is not keeping. Now it is time for us to conclude a cease-fire,” Hollande told reporters.