US to impose sanctions on Russia over novichok attack in UK

New sanctions freeze exports of ‘sensitive, dual-use’ products to Russia

Yulia Skripal
Yulia Skripal
(Image credit: 2018 Getty Images)

The Trump administration has announced a new round of sanctions against Russia, in response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack that targeted former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

The administration has been forced to impose the new sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) Control and Warfare Elimination Act, which mandates that exports of equipment deemed to be sensitive on national security grounds to countries using chemical weapons are frozen.

The list of products includes items such as “gas turbine engines, integrated circuits, and calibration equipment used in avionics”, which account for “about half of US exports to Russia”, The Guardian reports.

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CNN says that the sanctions are potentially very damaging for Russia, as the companies affected “account for 70 percent of the Russian economy and 40 percent of its workforce”.

The new sanctions are due to be enforced from 22 August. Russia will have 90 days to assure the US that it is no longer making or using chemical weapons, and allow on-site inspections of weapons facilities to ensure compliance.

If Moscow - which continues to vehemently deny any role in the Salisbury attack - fails to meet those requirements, a second round of far more draconian sanctions may be applied.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN, dismissed the sanctions, saying: “The theatre of absurd continues. No proofs, no clues, no logic, no presumption of innocence, just highly-liklies. Only one rule: blame everything on Russia, no matter how absurd and fake it is. Let us welcome the United Sanctions of America!”

The UK has welcomed the sanctions, saying in a statement: “The strong international response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behaviour will not go unchallenged.”

Both Skripals survived the novichok attack, but a 44-year-old woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after being exposed to the nerve agent.

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