Brussels: EU economic sanctions against Russia due to expire in July will now be tied to the full implementation of the Minsk ceasefire accord in Ukraine, which is not expected until the end of this year, EU president Donald Tusk said Thursday.
Tusk said European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels "agreed that the duration of economic sanctions will be clearly linked to complete implementation of Minsk, bearing in mind that this is only foreseen by the end of 2015."
Any formal decision to roll over the sanctions must still be agreed on by the 28 EU leaders, most probably at a summit in June.
The EU adopted tough economic sector sanctions against Russia after the July shooting down of Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which the West blamed on pro-Moscow rebels.
But with these sanctions coming up for renewal in July, some of the EU`s 28 member states had wanted to extend them to the end of 2015, tying them to the success or failure of the February Minsk accord brokered by France and Germany with Ukraine and Russia.
Others had wanted the bloc to wait and see how the situation developed on the ground.
Sanctions have been contentious from the start of the Ukraine crisis, with some EU member states such as Germany and Italy reluctant to go too far for fear of damaging important trade and political ties with Russia.
In contrast, Britain and many of the former east European states once ruled from Moscow -- including Poland -- have backed a tougher line.