The Trump administration has signed off on sweeping new sanctions against Russia following a near-fatal nerve agent attack against British citizen and former Russian spy Sergei Skripal — a move that could hit hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Russian state imports.
The Telegraph reports although the US joined European countries in publicly blaming Moscow within days of the attack, the Trump administration had never issued the formal determination that triggers automatic sanctions under a decades-old US law on chemical weapons.
Their declaration that Russia violated international law brings into effect sanctions limiting exports to Russia and financing of the deals with the country. The biggest impact from the initial sanctions is expected to come from a ban on granting licenses to export sensitive national security goods to Russia, which in the past have included items like electronic devices and components, along with test and calibration equipment for avionics. Prior to the sanctions, such exports were allowed on a case-by-case basis.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left seriously ill after being poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in March, though they have now recovered.A UK investigation blamed Russia for the attack, but the Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement.
Russia has criticised the new sanctions as “draconian”.In a statement released on Wednesday, the US state department confirmed it was implementing measures against Russia over the incident.Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it had been determined that the country “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals”.
The BBC reports that the new sanctions will take effect on or around 22 August, and relate to the exports of sensitive electronic components and other technologies.
The state department said “more draconian” sanctions will follow within 90 days if Russia fails to give reliable assurances it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations.
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