US to impose sanctions on Russia over nerve agent attack
US to impose sanctions on Russia over nerve agent attack
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Months after the attack a couple in a nearby town were also poisoned by the deadly toxin
09 August, 2018, 05:37
A terse release from the State Department said that the United States had determined Russian responsibility for the attack in Salisbury, England - a British conclusion the administration had already accepted - under a 1991 USA law on biological and chemical weapons use that requires the president to impose sanctions.
A senior State Department official said it had notified the Kremlin of the sanctions earlier in the day. The exports were previously allowed on a case-by-case basis.
She said the sanctions will take effect on or around August 22.
These sanctions could reinforce President Donald Trump's claim that despite investigations into Russian election meddling and accusations of collusion, his administration has in fact clamped down on Moscow.
It would reportedly include more drastic measures, such as downgrading diplomatic relations, banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the USA and cutting off almost all exports and imports.
The former Russian double agent and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in the town of Salisbury, England, on March 4.
They believe the bottle was then dropped somewhere in the city, where Charlie Rowley picked it up and gave it to his partner Dawn Sturgess, who died after apparently spritzing it on her wrist.
Russia's embassy in London said they had not received any extradition requests over allegations any of its citizens were involved in the novichok poisonings.
Last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May urged Trump to raise the issue of the poisonings when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, although it remained unclear whether the subject came up in their talks.
The new United States sanctions come amid increasing frustration with Trump's handling of Russian Federation, and how he apparently needed congressional prodding to impose the new penalties. 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.
Reports earlier this week that the United Kingdom was preparing to request the extradition of two Russians it suspected of being behind the attack were found to be less advanced than initially suggested, Sky sources said.
While criticized as too keen to strike up a friendship with Putin, Trump maintains that he's been tough on Moscow.
But the Russian finance ministry, quoted by Ria-Novosti news agency, sought to allay fears, saying the measures might not take effect, though it acknowledged that markets were "once again under pressure".
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