The U.S. has extended its economic sanctions regime against Russia. While the mass media kept quiet on the news, one or two outlets speculated about the possible reasons behind the decision as well as about the likely outcome of a coming EU vote on whether to follow suit.

Russian mass media covered the decision of the U.S. administration to extend the sanctions regime against Russia unenthusiastically. Photo: Kommersant

The Obama administration has ordered for sanctions against Russia, first imposed in March 2014 following Moscow’s takeover of Crimea and later expanded over Russian support for rebels in eastern Ukraine, to be extended for another year.

The White House released a statement to the effect on March 3, signed by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Russian mass media largely passed the topic over, though several publications running stories on the sanctions regime allowed for some speculation.

“It might be that the Obama administration has prolonged the sanctions against Russia to preserve important leverage in dealing with Russia," wrote news website Gazeta.ru. If a democratic nominee wins the presidential election, the Obama administration wants to provide them with a tool to manage Russia better, wrote the publication.

Maintaining sanctions may provide the next U.S. administration with the option of lifting them in exchange for concessions from Russia on an issue of vital importance to U.S. national interests, according to Gazeta.ru.

If a Republican candidate occupies the Oval Office, the new administration may continue its traditionally tough stance towards Russia and “use the sanctions regime to push its agenda forward,” it wrote.

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EU vote

Some publications reflected on an article by The Wall Street Journal that reported the possibility of an EU vote on extending sanctions against Russian officials and Russian-backed Ukrainian rebels.

However, any such EU decision is unlikely to be unequivocal and unanimous, according to Vesti.ru. “A number of the EU governments have stated their willingness to reconsider the economic sanctions,” wrote the news source.

Information apathy

On the whole, Russian mass media covered the decision of the U.S. administration to extend the sanctions regime against Russia unenthusiastically. The media downplayed the topic, reserving front pages for other stories.

“Regrettable,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Russian presidential press secretary, commenting on how the Kremlin viewed the White House decision to prolong the economic sanctions against Russia.

The article in English appeared in Russia Beyond The Headlines.