Russia vows to retaliate against new US sanctions

The U.S. 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.

The sanctions are mandated under the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which says the U.S. president shall tighten the penalties within 90 days unless Moscow provides "reliable assurances" that it no longer engages in such activities, and allows on-site inspections by United Nations observers.

The Trump administration's decision to impose further sanctions against Russia following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom earlier this year is "categorically unacceptable" and "illegal", according to President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

She said sanctions would take effect on or around August 22.

The Kremlin also denied all accusations that it was involved in the chemical poisoning attack.

The State Department's surprise announcement of the new sanctions on Wednesday jolted Moscow, where some politicians and analysts had been hopeful that Putin's meeting with President Trump in Helsinki in July would stabilize U.S. Investigators believe she found the substance in a discarded bottle and thought it was perfume.

The US and European Union also have sanctions in place against dozens of Russian state officials and firms accused of involvement in the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and support for the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Sturgess, 44, died a week after the exposure.

The higher price of oil, however, has given Russia's government a large financial cushion to maintain public services and to assist business magnates targeted by USA sanctions.

That breach automatically triggers the imposition of sanctions and places requirements on Russian Federation to avert further restrictions in three months' time.

The second round of sanctions could cut far deeper, including blocking all American bank loans to Russian entities, an outright ban on United States exports to Russia, and suspension of diplomatic relations.

"If the bill becomes law and Russia retaliates, we estimate that USD/RUB could move to 72.00, while EUR/RUB could hit 83.50, as any major selloff of Russian local debt, local credit and stocks would amplify outflows from the rouble", Danske Bank said in a note. He added that the new sanctions amount to "inflicting a punishment in the absence of a crime in the tradition of lynch law".

"Making a linking to these events (the British poisoning) is for us unacceptable and such restrictions like those passed by the American side earlier ... are absolutely illegal and do not correspond to global law", said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to a Reuters report.

"The mandatory sanctions that follow this determination are key to increasing pressure on Russia", Royce said.

Republican Representative Edward Royce of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a letter sent to Trump shortly after the Skripal attack, said he was encouraged by the joint statement Trump signed with allies.

The State Department announced a number of possible exceptions to the new sanctions.

The United Kingdom welcomed the move from the U.S. on Wednesday. It was one of a strain of nerve agents known as Novichok that they say is kept under tight control by the Russian authorities.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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