BRUSSELS — The European Union has extended by six months a visa ban and asset freeze targeting several close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and others involved in Russia's annexation of Crimea and other territorial disputes in Ukraine.

The EU said Monday that the "assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the regime of sanctions" under which 149 people and 37 entities are currently listed. The 28-nation EU has coordinated its sanctions in close cooperation with Washington.

The extension came amid continued unrest in eastern Ukraine throughout the year.

Despite a cease-fire declared in February, both Ukrainian troops and the Russia-backed separatists carried out regular artillery strikes until they pledged anew to implement the truce from Sept. 1.

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