By William Stroupe
The European Union has extended by six months targeted sanctions against Russian officials and firms to sustain pressure to implement the Minsk Ceasefire agreement in Eastern Ukraine by year’s end. The package of individual travel bans and asset freezes was set to expire September 15. In a concurrent move, the United States expanded its sanctions to include an additional 29 companies. Russia has faced western sanctions since early 2014 for its annexation of Crimea and its role in stoking separatist violence in Eastern Ukraine.