U.S. Sanctions On Russia Over Poisoning In Britain Go Into Force
RFE/RL August 27, 2018
U.S. sanctions against Russia over the March poisoning in Britain of a former Russian agent and his daughter have gone into effect, targeting foreign aid, the sale of defense and security goods, and U.S. government loans for exports to Russia.
The new penalties, which took effect August 27, were announced earlier this month after the United States said that the Russian government had violated a 1991 U.S. law when it used a nerve agent in an attempt to "assassinate" Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
A second, potentially more serious set of sanctions could be imposed by the end of November if Russia does not allow international inspectors into the country to look for chemical weapons.
Those measures could include things like downgrading diplomatic relations and restricting flights by the state flagship airline Aeroflot.
The U.S. State Department said the new measures taking effect August 27 will terminate assistance to Russia except for urgent humanitarian issues, end some arms sales and financing, restrict access to U.S. credit or other financial assistance, and prohibit the export to Russia of restricted goods or technology.
Among the exemptions are goods and services related to space launches. Washington and Moscow continue to cooperate closely on sending personnel and goods to the International Space Station.
The Skripals were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. They were seriously ill but later made a full recovery after spending several weeks in a hospital.
British officials said the two were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union, and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin's government for the attack. Russia rejects the accusation.
Russia has rejected the demands, with the Foreign Ministry saying the sanctions will create more tension between the two countries.
Putin "has on numerous occasions said that he will do what it takes to protect our country's interests in the wake of such unfriendly steps," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on August 27.
Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russia's military intelligence agency, was convicted of treason in 2006 by a Russian court that found him guilty of spying for Britain. He was released from prison in 2010 and sent to Britain in a spy swap.
Relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated to a post-Cold War low over issues including Russia's seizure of Crimea in 2014, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and its alleged election meddling in the United States and Europe.
With reporting by Reuters, RIA Novosti, and TASS
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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