Washington, Aug 9: The US is set to impose more sanctions on Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter using a Soviet-era nerve agent in the UK earlier this year, the State Department announced here.
In a statement on Wednesday, Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US had made this decision on Monday and accused Russia of violating international law, reports CNN.
The statement anticipated that the sanctions would go into effect around August 22 in line with the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.
Sanctions under this Act have been applied in the past against Syria for its 2013 use of chemical weapons and against North Korea for its use of VX nerve agent during the assassination of Kim Jong-un’s half brother in Malaysia.
Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia were hospitalised and treated for the nerve-agent attack in March. Yulia was discharged from the hospital in April, and her father in May.
The State Department notified Congress on Wednesday of the first of two potential tranches of sanctions required under the 1991 law.
Unless Russia takes certain steps, a second set of penalties — more stringent than this first round — must follow, according to the law.
The first set of sanctions target certain items the US exports to Russia that could have military uses — so-called dual use technologies. These are sensitive goods that normally would go through a case-by-case review before they are exported.
With these sanctions, the exports will be presumptively denied.
The items to be included in the second tranche are yet to be confirmed.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN, dismissed the sanctions in a tweet late Wednesday responding to the news, CNN reported.
“The theater of absurd continues. No proofs, no clues, no logic, no presumption of innocense, 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!” Polyanskiy tweeted.
The UK welcomed the move.
In a short statement, a government spokesperson said: “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.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously denied that Russia was behind the Skripals’ poisonings, saying in March that it was “unthinkable that we would do such a thing”.
Later that month, Trump ordered 60 more Russian diplomats expelled from the US as part of a global response to the attack.