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EU extends Russia sanctions over Crimea for another year

The European Union has extended some of its sanctions targeting Russia over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula for another year.

For two years, the 28-nation EU has imposed ever more punitive measures on Russia to protest what it calls "the illegal annexation of Crimea and deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine".

The sanctions target imports from the peninsula and investment there, among other measures.

The announcement came one day after EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg.

After the EU first imposed sanctions two years ago, Moscow retaliated by banning imports of meat, vegetable and dairy products from the EU, a blow to many of the bloc's members.

Mr Putin called on European leaders to improve ties with his country despite the sanctions.

Speaking at Russia's top economic conference Mr Putin said the European Union should "show flexibility" and consider the interests of EU investors who want to do business with Russia.

Western leaders and company executives went to Russia's St Petersburg Economic Forum this year after a two-year break.

Mr Putin had a meeting with the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday and other international executives, telling them that Russia is open to Western investment despite the strained ties with the West.

Mr Putin said Russia does not need a new Cold War and that the country's policy is "aimed at cooperation and search for compromise".

He criticised the West for ignoring Russia's legitimate interests. He said there is no reason for Nato's continued expansion, and noted that the US-led Nato missile defence plans pose a threat to Russia.

He said the missile defence programme is continuing despite the disappearance of the Iranian nuclear threat, which had been named as the main reason for it.

Mr Putin added that the Western policy of unilateral actions will undermine global stability. He called for searching for a balance of interests to strengthen international security.

He repeated his accusations that the West had been backing a forceful ousting of Ukraine's former Moscow-friendly president. He insisted that Russia's annexation of Crimea was rooted in what he described as a coup in Ukraine.

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