US Will Sanction Russia After UK Nerve Agent Attack

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday invoked the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 to impose new sanctions against the government of the Russian Federation for using the banned Novichok chemical weapon against the Skripals.

She said sanctions would take effect on or around 22 August, after a 15-day Congressional notification period.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, in Salisbury in March.

The sanctions are created to target electronic devices and some large equipment, including aircraft gas turbine engines, with an exemption for equipment used for mutual U.S. -Russia space exploration.

Although the United States says it is sanctioning Moscow over the Sergei Skripal case, the measures are actually due to internal U.S. politics which have led to a "sanctions war" in Washington, writer and journalist Neil Clark told RT.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said the U.S. move was "absolutely unfriendly".

They are being imposed in response to a 1991 United States law which requires export controls to be imposed on any country found to have used chemical weapons. But unless Russia agrees within 90 days to stop all use of chemical weapons and permit inspections to confirm their elimination, additionally mandated measures could cut off nearly all trade between the two countries, prohibit landing rights for Russian airlines, and lead to a suspension of diplomatic relations.

The new sanctions come in two tranches.

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Others in the country expressed alarm and dismay over the US move, which threatened to diminish hopes of improved bilateral ties. Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement.

"In practice this will mean we are imposing a "presumption of denial" upon export licences for USA -origin national security-sensitive goods and technology to any Russian state-owned or state-funded enterprise", the official said in a conference call with reporters.

Despite assurances, the ruble fell to a two-year low, and shares of Russian companies likely affected by the sanctions - including several banks and Russia's national air carrier Aeroflot - dipped in value.

The Trump administration has also already responded to the nerve agent poisonings.

There would, however, be exemptions for space flight activities, government space cooperation, and areas covering commercial passenger aviation safety, which would be reviewed on a case by case basis, the official added.

The government of the United Kingdom, where the Skripal poisoning occurred, applauded the Trump administration for imposing more sanctions on Russian Federation.

Trump caught flak from Democrats and Republicans alike for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of Putin last month at their Helsinki summit, when Trump appeared to disavow his own intelligence agencies' assessment on Moscow's election interference. Rand Paul hand-delivered a letter from Mr. Trump to Putin, asking for "expanding dialogue".

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