Europe has made the decision to extend sanctions against Russia through the rest of the year, and the embattled country's leaders have lashed out against the move.
Sanctions placed against the Kremlin have heavily restricted Russian corporations' access to Western markets, but officials have not given an inch in the tug-of-war between the West and Moscow over the latter's alleged invasion of Eastern Ukraine.
The not-so-secret annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea kicked off the sanctions, and since then, Kremlin officials' refusal to give in and back out of the pro-Russian region have driven actions against the country. Though the trade restrictions have had a profound and detrimental effect on the Russian economy, Moscow has extended its own countersanctions against the West in response to Europe's latest sanction extension.
"The trade restrictions have had a profound and detrimental effect."
Substantial restrictions pushing Russia into recession
The restrictions extended by Europe include asset freezes on certain Russian companies, as well as travel bans. The countersanctions the Kremlin intends to extend in response to the EU's latest action include a ban on European agricultural imports. While Russia has stood strong in its opposition to EU sanctions and the establishment of its own restrictions against the West, Moscow's economy has suffered. Oil prices have tumbled and the country has been slipping deeper into recession.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the sanctions focus on restrictions on 11 Russian state-owned oil companies. These include Rosneft, the oil production and refining subsidiary of OAO Gazprom, Sberbank and VTB Bank. Also strapped with restrictions are Russian banks and defense firms receiving loans from companies or people within the EU or raising money in European markets. Russian exports of high-tech equipment for deep water, Arctic and shale production and exploration have also been banned by the EU.
More decisions coming for EU regarding Russia
The bloc has decisions to make regarding long-term relations with the Kremlin. Countries such as Italy, Luxembourg and Greece, have supported looking for ways to improve relations with Moscow in areas such as trade, The Wall Street Journal noted. Other EU members, though, have a different opinions on how to approach Russia. The U.K., Poland and the Baltic states have all voiced their opposition to strengthening ties with the Kremlin, and have urged tighter sanctions should violence in the Ukraine worsen.
September holds another deadline for bloc. Then the EU will have to make a decision on whether to renew travel bans and asset freezes against Russian lawmakers, officials, separatists and corporations.