Friday, 17 August, 2018

Spy poisoning row: Russian Federation hits back as USA announces new sanctions

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     TARGETED Sergei and Yulia Skripal were exposed to Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok FACEBOOK GETTY TARGETED Sergei and Yulia Skripal were exposed to Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok
Orlando Vargas | 10 August, 2018, 14:43

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that Washington made the determination this week that Moscow had used the Novichok nerve agent to poison ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury and that sanctions would follow later this month.

Under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, the president must determine whether a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of worldwide law or used "lethal biological weapons against its own nationals", the State Department said.

In March former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were poisoned with a Soviet-designed nerve agent known as Novichok.

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.

Until now such exports had been previously allowed on a case-by-case basis, with a senior State Department official saying the move could cut off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exports to Russian Federation.

Interested in Russia? Add Russia as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Unless Russia agrees within 90 days to stop all use of chemical weapons and permit inspections to confirm their elimination, the law requires the United States to choose from a range of additional measures, including withdrawal of USA support for worldwide loans and US bank loans, prohibition of landing rights for Russian airlines, and suspension of diplomatic relations.

The UK blames Russia, but the Russian government strongly denies any involvement. Instead, Russia is likely to respond with its own sanctions.

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

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The US is trying to play up this "anti-Russian topic as a way to continue demonizing Russia" and make it appear that it is not fulfilling its global obligations, Zakharova said.

Newly announced US sanctions-and the potential for a second round of actions in 90 days-roiled Russia's currency and blue-chip stocks as the country braced for further economic pain amid uncertainties over the Trump administration's commitment to enforcement.

"Once again we deny in the strongest terms the accusations about the possible connection of the Russian state to what happened in Salisbury".

It also follows a letter addressed to the president late last month by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, R-CA, insisting that Russian Federation be punished under the act. It would also impose mandatory sanctions on individuals found to have taken part in the interference.

The ruble is down 14.25% versus the dollar this year.

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

Russia's political and business leaders were quick to chalk up a summit last month between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin as a victory.

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