The European Union is extending for six months the sanctions targeting people and entities involved in what the EU considers Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The extension, officially announced Thursday, consists of an asset freeze and a ban on EU travel, and affects 146 individuals and 37 entities.

The measures, originally introduced in 2014, were last extended in March, the EU said in a statement. The latest action endorsed by representatives from the 28 EU member states means the punitive measures can remain in force through March 15, 2017.

European Union leaders have strongly condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea. The people and entities subject to EU sanctions are deemed to have acted "against Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence."