USA imposes sanctions on Russian Federation for nerve agent attack in UK

Muriel Colon
August 10, 2018

The US Government says it will impose fresh sanctions on Russia after it determining that Moscow used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in the UK.

The official said a second batch of "more draconian" sanctions would be imposed after 90 days unless Russian Federation gives "reliable assurances" that it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations.

Russia's embassy in the United States called the new USA sanctions draconian and said the reason for the new restrictions - allegations it had poisoned the Skripals in Britain - was far-fetched.

Following a 15-day congressional notification period, the sanctions will take effect on or around August 22, according to a statement from the State Department.

Zakharova described the new sanctions as an "unfriendly act" and accused the USA of trying to "demonize" Russian Federation.

According to the law, it could include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending national flag carrier Aeroflot's ability to fly to the United States and cutting off almost all exports and imports.

But Russia's delegation to the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog said on Thursday that the West was acting as judge, jury and executioner. Yet the American leader was roundly criticized by members of both parties in Congress for what many perceived as an overly conciliatory performance at a summit meeting with Vladimir Putin leader in Helsinki last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with spokesman Dmitry Peskov, center, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi on May 18.

The US response may be partly motivated by a desire to be seen to be tough on Moscow after accusations that Mr Trump was too soft on Russian Federation.

The Kremlin earlier on Thursday called the latest action by the US State Department "illegal" and "unacceptable".

The spokesperson went on to say Russian American relations are at a record low point and the USA continues to deteriorate bilateral ties.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharaova denied Russian involvement in the Skripal poisoning on Thursday and said Moscow is working on unspecified "retaliatory measures" against the United States.

A senior Russian lawmaker denounced the sanctions as "lynch law".

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US move runs contrary to a "constructive" atmosphere at the Trump-Putin summit last month, and he strongly denied any Russian role in the poisoning in Britain.

A Downing Street spokesman said: 'The UK welcomes this further action by our United States allies.

However the sanctions announcement could bolster US President Donald Trump's claim that his administration is taking a tough stance on Moscow, even as he continues to denounce as a "witch hunt" an independent probe whether his election campaign colluded with Russian Federation.

Speaking about sanctions now in place and those recently announced, Medvedev said that despite the declared political reasons behind them, those measures are intended mostly "to limit our economic power".

The fate of the bill he was referring to is not certain.

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