Trump Administration Sanctions Russia Over Spy Poisoning, After Rebuke From Congress

A barrier and a police tent stand outside Sergei Skripal's home in Salisbury Britain

A barrier and a police tent stand outside Sergei Skripal's home in Salisbury Britain

The U.S. had joined Britain in condemning Russia for the Skripal poisoning and joined with European nations in expelling Russian diplomats in response, but it had yet to make the formal determination that the Russian government had "used chemical or biological weapons in violation of global law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals".

The State Department announced the penalties on Wednesday - a response to the poisoning last March of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, in the British town of Salisbury.

The US has imposed sanctions on Russian Federation after concluding that Moscow was behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

With those possible exemptions in mind, the State Department estimated the value of the new sanctions could "reach potentially hundreds of millions of dollars".

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, accused Britain of making baseless accusations over the poisonings and suggested they were driven by domestic issues in the UK. One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, later died, leading police to launch a murder inquiry.

The law requires the president to terminate arms sales, deny us credit and prohibit the export of sensitive technology to any country using chemical or biological weapons.

"Trump is the master of media manipulation, and the decision to sanction Russia over the Skripal assassination attempt comes, not coincidentally, as pressure mounts on the president to react to the widespread condemnation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election", Professor Michael Cullinane, a reader in USA history at the University of Roehampton, told i. 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.

The Financial Stability Board - an worldwide body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system, said in a 2018 report, that Russia's financial system "continued to suffer from weak governance, including sometimes non-transparent ownership structures and deficiencies in reporting".

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The new sanctions come in two tranches.

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.

Also in March, Washington ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, and the closure of Russia's consulate general in Seattle.

"We believe linking new [U.S.] restrictive measures, which we continue to consider illegitimate, to the Salisbury case is totally unacceptable", Peskov said, according to the Russian news agency TASS, referring to the suspected poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

The White House did not immediately send out a statement on the sanctions.

NBC, citing US officials, said the second tranche could include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending the state airline Aeroflot's ability to fly to the United States, and cutting off almost all exports and imports.

The leaders, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had met at summit in Helsinki. Rand Paul hand-delivered a letter from Mr. Trump to Putin, asking for "expanding dialogue".

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