U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Nerve-Agent Attack in Britain

U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Nerve-Agent Attack in Britain

The leaders, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had met at summit in Helsinki.

Washington said on Wednesday it would impose new sanctions on Russia by the end of August after it determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain.

Newly announced USA sanctions-and the potential for a second round of actions in 90 days-roiled Russia's currency and blue-chip stocks as the country braced for further economic pain amid uncertainties over the Trump administration's commitment to enforcement.

The sanctions came as an eagerly-watched contest for a previously safe Republican seat in the U.S. congress went to the wire, leading to speculation that voters were turning against Donald Trump and could punish the Republican Party at mid-term elections.

According to U.S. media reports, the new measures include a ban on granting licenses to export sensitive national security goods to Russian Federation.

There could also be a second round of sanctions that would be "more draconian" than the first round, the officials said.

The sanctions enacted so far this year, and the threat of more, have already inflicted pain on Russia's middle class.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Thursday the new sanctions represent a fresh attempt to "demonize Russia".

Others in the country expressed alarm and dismay over the USA move, which threatened to diminish hopes of improved bilateral ties.

Turbulence in the oil market is also putting pressure on the currency, analysts said. "At times, the number of those who want to ditch the rouble is becoming so high, so there is not enough liquidity".

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"You can impose sanctions against another state because you want to see a change in behaviour of the other state", says Professor Moritz Pieper, a lecturer in global relations at the University of Salford.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov criticised the sanctions as "categorically unacceptable".

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any connection to the poisonings and has rejected British and European demands that it provide access to its chemical weapons arsenals, which Moscow insists it has destroyed.

In a sign the Kremlin was not eager to escalate an already hard situation, however, Peskov said it was too early to talk about Russian countermeasures.

In June, two more people were taken to hospital after being exposed to the nerve agent.

The State Department announced the penalties on Wednesday - a response to the poisoning last March of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, in the British town of Salisbury.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were hospitalized and treated for a nerve-agent attack in March. Moscow has been blamed for the poisonings, but has denied any involvement.

The latest U.S. action follows the Treasury's imposition of sanctions in March against 19 Russian citizens and five entities for interfering in the 2016 United States election - the toughest steps against Moscow since Trump took office.

Konstantin Koschev, chairman of foreign affairs in the upper house of the Russian parliament, fumed that the U.S.is acting like a "police state" by "threatening and torturing a suspect to get evidence".

The Russian Embassy in Washington said the "draconian" new sanctions against Russia weren't backed by any facts or evidence, noting that while the US said it has enough information to conclude that Russia is to blame, it refused to disclose what it has, saying the information is classified.

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