EU agrees to extend blacklist on Russians over Ukraine turmoil

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union agreed on Wednesday to extend for another six months its blacklist of 149 Russian nationals and Ukrainian separatists, as well as 38 entities, for their role in the turmoil in Ukraine, sources in Brussels said.

During a weekly meeting in Brussels, representatives of the 28 EU states agreed on the roll over, which will formally be adopted on Sept. 14, and prolong the visa ban and asset freeze list until mid-March.

The bloc first imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Kiev in March 2014, and ratcheted them up as Moscow went on to back a separatist revolt in the east of the former Soviet republic.

Russia vows to never return Crimea though the annexation has not been internationally recognized and is denounced as illegal.

The conflict in east Ukraine has killed more than 10,000 people and is still simmering, a key factor souring Russia’s relations with the West, including the EU.

The bloc’s separate main economic sanctions against Russia, which curb EU cooperation in the energy, defense and financial fields, are in place until the end of January 2018.

Apart from separatist leaders in Crimea and east Ukraine, the EU’s blacklist, which prevents people getting visas or freezes their assets, includes senior Russian officials and companies that have supported or benefited from the crisis.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Alison Williams