US announces fresh sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

9 August 2018

US announces fresh sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

The United States will impose new sanctions on Russia over the Kremlin’s alleged role in poisoning former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Wednesday (local time).

Ms Nauert said the US had determined that Russia “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law”, adding that the sanctions will come into effect around 22 August.

By declaring Russia guilty, the US was forced to impose sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act), which includes a number of mandatory sanctions.

The sanctions will target “national security sensitive goods” with some exceptions including technologies that contribute to the joint US-Russia “space flight activities”.

Additionally, “foreign assistance to Russia and to the Russian people” will not be cut off because the US’ “provision of foreign assistance is a tool of US power and influence, and we’re not going to forswear that just because we have the obligation to impose some sanctions against Russia,” Ms Nauert said.

She added that if Russia does not meet Washington’s demands within 90 days, a second tranche of sanctions will be triggered.

Days after Mr Skripal and his daughter were hospitalised following their exposure to a nerve agent, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” the Russian Government was responsible because the substance that poisoned the Skripals was identified as belonging to the Soviet-era Novichok series.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack on the Skripals and has offered its assistance in the investigation, saying there was no reason to kill someone who had received a presidential pardon.

The UK has refused Russian consular access to Yulia Skripal despite her being a Russian citizen, prompting the Russian Government to accuse the UK of holding her against her will and suggesting the British Government may actually be responsible for the attack.

Mr Skripal, a former Russian spy, was turned by MI6, arrested in Russia, pardoned in 2010 and exchanged in a spy swap after which he settled in Salisbury, England.

Currently no direct link between the Russian state and poisoning of the Skripals has been made public.

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