US Sanctions Russia Over Claimed UK Nerve Agent Attack


The Kremlin on Thursday vowed to retaliate against "unacceptable" new United States sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain, which prompted the ruble and Russian stocks to tumble.

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

He criticised the United States decision to link the sanctions to the British nerve agent case, an incident the Kremlin has long cast as a Western plot to damage its reputation and provide a pretext for more sanctions.

The rouble is stabilising as the market realises that the new US sanctions proposed by the White House are not as painful as the penalties proposed earlier by USA senators, analysts at Alfa Bank said in a note.

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it will impose new sanctions on Russia over the nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has signed off on a determination that Russian Federation violated global law by poisoning the former spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in March, the officials said.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the USA move runs contrary to a "constructive" atmosphere at the Trump-Putin summit last month, and he strongly denied any Russian role in the poisoning in Britain.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said the U.S. move was "absolutely unfriendly", but said Moscow continued to hope that for an improvement in battered U.S. -Russia relations. One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, later died, leading police to launch a murder inquiry.

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While the central bank has not replied to Reuters request for comment about implications of the rouble's drop, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has tried to dismiss concerns about Russia's vulnerability to the USA sanctions. "So linking these events is unacceptable to us, and just as with previous USA sanctions we believe are absolutely illegal and against worldwide law", Peskov told reporters. They aim to deny Russian state-owned and state-funded enterprises access to any national-security-sensitive goods and technologies originating in the U.S.

The U.S. sanctions announced on Wednesday, which will go into effect around August 22, will restrict the licenses granted for exports of national security goods and technologies to Russian Federation.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (front) and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attend a session of the Council of Heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Sochi on October 11, 2017.

A senior State Department official said Wednesday that there could be exceptions.

Relations between Russia and the West hit a new low, and the U.S. was among United Kingdom allies that expelled Russian diplomats.

But initial triumphalism swiftly turned sour as anger over what some USA lawmakers saw as an over deferential performance by Trump and his failure to confront Putin over Moscow's alleged meddling in US politics galvanized a new sanctions push. Investigators believe she found the substance in a discarded bottle and thought it was perfume.

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