BRUSSELS -- The European Union has prolonged its asset freezes and travel bans on Russian officials and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine for another six months, with Russia's new ambassador to the United States remaining on the list, diplomats said.
Interior ministers from the 28 EU member states decided to renew the restrictive measures until March 2018 at a meeting on September 14 in Brussels -- one day before they were due to expire.
In a statement, the European Council said an assessment of the situation in Ukraine “did not justify a change in the sanctions regime.”
Asset freezes and visa bans were first imposed by the EU on people responsible for actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity in March 2014, after Russia occupied and seized control of Crimea. Those sanctions have been extended every six months.
The EU diplomats said that Russia's new ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, remains on the EU sanctions list as no country asked for his removal.
Antonov, a former deputy defense minister and deputy foreign minister who arrived in Washington on August 31 to take up his post, is under EU and Canadian sanctions but not U.S. sanctions.
The Russians under EU sanctions also include Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Armed Forces General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov, and state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov.
Brussels removed from its sanctions list four separatists who have died since the last renewal.
And following a merger involving three listed entities, these entities were removed from the list and the company into which they have merged -- Crimean Sea Ports -- was added.
The restrictive measures now apply to 149 people and 38 entities.