(QHA) -

Russia has warned the European Union that a decision to extend existing sanctions over Moscow's interference in Ukraine would further damage relations.

In a statement on January 30, the Russian Foreign Ministry also suggested the EU decision could jeopardize the chances for an end to the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine.

"It's time for the European Union to really think about the lack of prospects for the sanctions standoff, which only harms the people and the economies of our countries," the ministry said.

EU foreign ministers decided on January 29 to extend sanctions imposed after Russia's annexation of Crimea last year until September, instead of letting them expire in March.

They also agreed to draft a list of additional individuals to be potentially hit with sanctions early next month.

The Russian statement blamed Kyiv for a recent escalation of fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying it was "initiated by Kyiv just before the EU meeting."

Kyiv and the West blame the separatists and Russia for the escalation of fighting in the conflict that has killed more than 5,100 people since April.

QHA