The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that connecting the EU sanctions to the regulation of the conflict in the Donbass is “groundless.”
"The fact that the EU binds their sanctions to the settlement of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine is artificial and groundless. This conflict was started not by Russia, but by the current Ukrainian government," the Ministry said.
"The lack of logic in the behavior of the European Union is obvious. It's trying to 'punish' Russia for something that it has no influence over, but which the EU itself was involved in," added the Russian diplomats.
On December 21st, the Council of the European Union decided to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months, until July 31, 2016. At the end of July 2014, the EU and the United States of America imposed economic sanctions against Russia in the fields of energy, banking, and defense. This package of the EU sanctions would have terminated on January 31, 2016—a month after the expiration of the conditions of the peace agreement scheduled at the end of December. This agreement was signed in Minsk by Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia in February of this year.
The West and Ukraine accuse Moscow of supporting the pro-Russian militants in the Donbass. Moscow continues to deny these charges.
However, on December 17th, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin acknowledged the presence of Russians in the Donbass. "We have never said that our people weren't there; people that deal with specific military issues," said Putin.
Moscow also says that it is not bound to honor any obligations according to the Minsk Agreements. They claim that “we didn't sign them as a participant but as a "guarantor" and we don't intend to abide by them.”