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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union envoys on Wednesday agreed to prolong for another six months the bloc's blacklist of people and entities involved in Russia's destabilisation of Ukraine, diplomats and officials said.
The blacklist will run to 154 people and 44 entities subject to an EU travel ban and asset freeze, once the leader of the Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, Alexander Zakharchenko, who was killed in a cafeteria blast last week, is removed, diplomats said.
The list covers mostly Russian nationals and companies, as well as pro-Moscow Ukrainian entries.
The formal extension of the sanctions until mid-March will be completed in the coming days, diplomats said.
The bloc also has economic sanctions in place against Moscow for annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and for backing rebels facing off against Kiev in the east of the country.
Given the delicate balance between Russia hawks in the EU's north and east, and those in the west and the south who would want to seek more business ties with Moscow, the bloc is likely to keep on extending the sanctions for now.
But it is unlikely to step up significantly its sanctions regime despite a call by London for new punitive measures against Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain earlier this year.
British prosecutors on Wednesday identified two Russians who they accused of trying to murder the ex-spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Robin Emmott)