EU to extend Russia sanctions, add new names, prepare new steps

BRUSSELS - The European Union will extend by six months sanctions imposed on Russia last March over its annexation of Crimea, add new people to those under sanctions and prepare new measures, draft conclusions for an EU foreign ministers meeting showed.

EU foreign ministers will meet on Thursday in Brussels for emergency talks to address renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine and an offensive by Russian-backed separatists.

"In view of the worsening situation, the Council agrees to extend the restrictive measures targeting persons and entities for threatening or undermining Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, adopted in March 2014 and subsequently updated, until September 2015," the draft conclusions said.

"Moreover, it calls on European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission to present a proposal for decision within a week on additional listings," said the draft, which was seen by Reuters.

"The Council will continue to closely follow the situation on the ground and will act accordingly. The Council asks that further preparatory work by the Commission and the EEAS be undertaken on any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures," it said.

On March 17, 2014, the European Union subjected 21 officials to visa bans and asset freezes for their role in the take-over of Crimea by Russia. They included three senior Russian commanders.