Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Economy | By

Russian Federation reels, cries foul after USA sanctions spiral escalates

Russian Federation reels, cries foul after USA sanctions spiral escalates

The US State Department said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions by the month's end after determining that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, in Salisbury in March.

Britain was quite happy with the expulsions back in March, and unsurprisingly was quick to endorse the new United States sanctions as a "strong worldwide response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury".

The State Department said the sanctions were in response to "the use of a "Novichok" nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate United Kingdom citizen Sergei Skripal" - who was a double agent - and his daughter Yulia in March.

The move was announced today by the USA state department.

The US made a similar determination in February when it found that North Korea used a chemical weapon to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017.

The sanctions being used by the US are economic - they ban companies from selling goods to Russian Federation.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin called the measures "unfriendly" and "unlawful".

In June, two more people were taken to hospital after being exposed to the nerve agent.

Sturgess, 44, died a week after the exposure.

The second round of sanctions could cut far deeper, including blocking all American bank loans to Russian entities, an outright ban on United States exports to Russia, and suspension of diplomatic relations.

"We confirmed that we continue to strongly stand for an open and transparent investigation of the crime committed in Salisbury and for bringing the culprits to justice".

Those sanctions will include the presumed denial of export licenses for Russian Federation to purchase many items with national security implications, according to a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to do so by name.

In the event of non-compliance, the official added, a second round of "draconian" sanctions would be given a green light.

The State Department's announcement fuelled already worsening investor sentiment about the possible impact of more sanctions on Russian assets and the rouble at one point slid by over one per cent against the dollar, hitting a two-year low, before recouping some of its losses.

Although the U.S. says it is sanctioning Moscow over the Sergei Skripal case, the measures are actually due to internal USA politics which have led to a "sanctions war" in Washington, writer and journalist Neil Clark told RT.

President Trump met with Putin at a summit in Helsinki, Finland, in July, and was widely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans alike who accused Mr. Trump of being too conciliatory to Putin.

Paul said the letter "emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges".

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