The EU's decision was made on the grounds that the Minsk agreements have not been implemented.
The European Union decided Thursday to extend the economic sanctions against Russia for six more months. Sanctions were implemented in 2014 due to Russia’s involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict.
"The EU unanimously prolongs the economic sanctions against Russia, given that progress was not made in the implementation of the Minsk agreements," Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, announced through a Twitter message.
The decision was not surprising. At the end of November, high-level EU politicians threatened Moscow with new sanctions, after Russia detained three Ukrainian military vessels that illegaly crossed into Russian territory in the Kerch Strait.
Russia clarified that its actions were a response to Ukrainian vessels advancing directly towards the Crimean bridge, located in Russian waters.
Decision: EU unanimously prolongs economic sanctions against Russia given zero progress in implementation of Minsk agreements.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) December 13, 2018
In March 2014, the people of the Crimean region held a referendum to leave Ukraine. Subsequently, they requested to join the Russian Federation, a decision that did not please Western powers.
Since then, the EU is blocking Russian banks' access to European markets and limiting European trade with Russia.