New US sanctions on Russia over Skripals’ poisoning

The US is imposing new sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England despite the UK’s failure to show any credible evidence on Moscow’s role.

The measures would start on or around August 22.

The US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the measures are to punish Russia for using chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law against its own nationals, adding that Moscow has been informed about the impending sanctions.

The UK welcomed the move saying it sends a strong message to Moscow that its “reckless act” of using chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury will not go unchallenged.

The new US measures would start with the cancelling of licences for the export of sensitive national security goods to Russia. This may include electronic devices and components as well as test and calibration equipment for avionics.

Russia can avoid the second round of sanctions if it promises not to use chemical weapons in the future and agrees to on-site inspections by the UN.

The measures, if they go ahead, would include downgrading diplomatic relations, banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the US and cutting off most exports and imports.

The UK started blaming Russia hours after the Skripals were found slumped on a street bench on March 4 in Salisbury where the former Russian double agent lives.

Days later, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country claiming they had identified the substance used for poisoning as Soviet-era chemical agent ‘novichok’.

The US and its European allies joined the UK in protest by expelling Russian diplomats from their respective countries.
UK labs, despite the government’s claim, have so far been unable to trace the origins of the agent that poisoned the Skripals.

On June 30, two more people were found poisoned in Amesbury near Salisbury. UK officials claimed Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were exposed to the same nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals and blamed Russia.

Within two months, the Skripals were discharged from Salisbury government hospital (pictured) where they were undergoing treatment.

Russia has consistently denied any role in the two cases of poisoning and offered its willingness to start own investigation if the UK passes traces of the substance to them. The UK rejected the offer.