• Danish foreign minister says engagement needed in Arctic
  • Jensen says two years after Crimea, more than Ukraine at stake

The EU needs to hold firm in its condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said as he cautioned against divisions at Monday’s meeting in Brussels.

“More than 20 times we have taken new decisions on sanctions, always by consensus, even when it has also hurt ourselves,” Jensen said in comments to Bloomberg as foreign ministers gathered to discuss relations with Russia, Iran and the Middle East. “Even more than Ukraine is at stake here – right now, we are in the greatest test yet of the credibility of our common foreign and security policy.”

The EU should step up its support of civil society groups in Russia, given “worsening conditions” and a new law regulating non-governmental organizations, Jensen said. He also called for engagement in areas of common interest, such as the Arctic.

Asset freezes and travel bans on 146 people and 37 companies were rolled over by six months until Sept. 15, the EU said in Brussels on Thursday. The curbs were originally imposed in March 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. The blacklist includes six associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The focus has now shifted to the bloc’s trade and investment curbs on Russia, which are due to lapse on July 31. Countries including Italy, Greece, Hungary and Austria have expressed discomfort with those penalties, though they stopped short of vetoing their prolongation last year.

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