File photo shows the EU headquarters in Brussels.
European Union ambassadors have extended asset freezes and travel bans against Moscow over its alleged involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and the rejoining of the Crimea Peninsula to Russia.  
The travel bans and asset freezes, which cover some 150 people and 37 entities, were extended for six months on Wednesday. The sanctions were due to expire on September 15.  
The bans, first introduced in March 2014, target several companies in Crimea as well as Russia's Almaz-Antey, a maker of air defense systems.
The bans also target Russian politicians like Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
In March, people in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for rejoining the Russian Federation in a referendum. The West branded the move as Moscow’s annexation of the territory.
A month later, the Kiev government launched the first round of its military operations in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are populated mostly by pro-Russians, to crush anti-government protests there. The operations, however, led to deadly clashes between the two sides.
This August 14, 2016 photo shows buildings destroyed by shelling in the town of Shyrokyne, in Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine. ©AFP
The EU stepped up its sanctions against Russia in July 2014, when tension between the Kiev government and pro-Russia forces flared up in eastern Ukraine.
The US and EU have accused Russia of playing a role in Ukraine’s conflict, imposing several sanctions against the country. Moscow denies the allegations.
The crisis in eastern Ukraine has left nearly 9,500 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.
Russia criticizes new US bans
Meanwhile, the Kremlin criticized new US sanctions against Moscow, saying the bans were not consistent with talks over possible cooperation between Moscow and Washington in different areas.
"This is not consistent with talks over possible cooperation in sensitive areas that the two presidents discussed," Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with US President Barack Obama in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on September 5, 2016. ©AP
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, met during the G20 summit in China and discussed different issues, including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Commerce said it was expanding its blacklist of Russian companies and individuals over their alleged links to the Ukrainian conflict.
The fresh sanctions target 75 Russian companies and up to 37 individuals.

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