What Happened: The European Union is extending sanctions against Russia for an additional six months and added eight Russian individuals to its blacklist over the ongoing standoff with Ukraine in the Sea of Azov, Tass reported March 15.
Why It Matters: The sanctions are the first punitive measures taken by the West related directly to the Sea of Azov incident in November 2018. The European Union will likely limit its sanctions response to individuals. But the United States is currently considering a much stronger sanctions package, including restrictions on Russia's shipbuilding industry.
Background: Russia seized three Ukrainian ships and detained 24 Ukrainian personnel on November 25, 2018, in an incident at the Kerch Strait that sparked Western criticism. The Sea of Azov has been the site of growing tensions between Kiev and Moscow as both countries look to boost their military presence there.
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- Ukraine, Russia: Pressure on Moscow Builds Over Its Seafaring Standoff With Kiev (Feb. 15, 2019)