: RFE/RL: Italy's demand delays extension of E.U. sanctions against Russia

12:41 Jun. 23, 2016

RFE/RL: Italy's demand delays extension of E.U. sanctions against Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi attend a signing ceremony of agreements at the St. Petersburg International Economic. Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo)

The restrictions were previously agreed on the level of member states' ambassadors to the E.U. 

Italy has once again delayed an attempt to extend the European Union's economic sanctions against Russia, despite an accord reached by E.U. diplomats earlier in the week for sanctions to be prolonged by another six months.

E.U. sources tell that Rome wants language included in the conclusions of the EU's June 28-29 summit before it signs off on the deal to extend the sanctions. Italy wants the summit conclusions to acknowledge a commitment for Brussels to review Russian policy later in 2016.

On June 21st, ambassadors from all 28 E.U. countries agreed to extend the sanctions imposed over Russia's occupation and illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and Moscow's support for pro-Russia separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Both the United Kingdom and France agreed to the extension, but only with a so-called parliamentary reserve. That means the ambassadors must first consult their national parliaments on the issue before signing off on the extension of sanctions.

Read also Resistance to sanctions against Russia increased in E.U. - Steinmeier

Italy did not indicate any conditions during the June 21st meeting of E.U. ambassadors. Now Rome is insisting on the inclusion of special language in the text of the E.U. summit conclusions. That move is similar to what happened in December 2015 when Rome agreed to extend the current sanctions through the end of July.

E.U. diplomats told they have no doubt about the eventual extension of the sanctions, which target Russia's banking and energy sectors as well as individuals in Russia.

Read also PACE to consider easing diplomatic sanctions against Russia

But Italy's latest demand means a final decision on extending the sanctions against Russia is likely to be postponed until after the gathering of E.U. leaders in late June.

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