Sanctions stay in place

BRUSSELS – The European Union has decided keep in place biting economic sanctions on Russia over its alleged backing of pro-Kremlin insurgents who have largely ignored a four-week Ukrainian truce.

The bloc’s announcement on Tuesday came just moments before NATO reported the continued presence of “hundreds” of elite Russian soldiers in the war-torn former Soviet nation’s separatist east.

The two Western alliances’ continuing pressure on Russia — already more isolated than at any point in Vladimir Putin’s 15-year rule — set an ominous tone to the launch of Ukraine’s October 26 parliamentary election campaign.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kojicancic said while member states saw “encouraging developments” in parts of the September 5 truce agreed by Moscow and Kiev, other parts “need to be properly implemented” before sanctions could be eased.