Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Business | By Kate Woods

USA imposes new sanctions on Russian Federation over nerve agent poisoning

USA imposes new sanctions on Russian Federation over nerve agent poisoning

While Russia reserved the right to retaliate against new trade restrictions, the U.S. threatened to intensify sanctions within three months, by potentially cutting off almost all exports and imports and banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the US. The Russian government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack.

In response to the United States announcement, the Russian Embassy in the U.S. issued a statement referring to "far-fetched accusations" and saying Russian officials had yet to hear any facts or evidence and that the USA had refused to answer questions.

The US is trying to play up this "anti-Russian topic as a way to continue demonizing Russia" and make it appear that it is not fulfilling its worldwide obligations, Zakharova said.

The Russian rouble has slumped to its lowest level since November 2016, hours after the U.S. announced new sanctions because of the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

The US expelled a number of Russian diplomats as part of an global response to the attack, when the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were taken ill in March.

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9 responded to new US sanctions accusing it of conducting an illegal chemical attack, calling them "unacceptable".

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, accused Britain of making baseless accusations over the poisonings and suggested they were driven by domestic issues in the UK.

However the sanctions announcement could bolster U.S. President Donald Trump's claim that his administration is taking a tough stance on Moscow, even as he continues to denounce as a "witch hunt" an independent probe into whether his election campaign colluded with Russian Federation. On state television, analysts and commentators lamented Trump's inability to push through a hostile Congress a reset in relations with Russian Federation following a summit with Putin in Helsinki in July.

In the latest broadside, the US State Department said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions by the month's end after determining that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain, something Moscow denies.

Trump caught flak from Democrats and Republicans alike for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of Putin last month at their Helsinki summit, when Trump appeared to disavow his own intelligence agencies' assessment on Moscow's election interference.

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In March, the United States joined European nations in expelling Russian diplomats to answer the poisonings.

British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the decision.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned the U.S. that any sanctions targeting Russian banking operations and currency trade will be treated as a declaration of economic war and retaliated against by any means necessary.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

"Thank you United States of America for standing firm with us on this", Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted.

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