USA to slap sanctions on Russian Federation over nerve agent attack

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.

U.S. and European allies have publicly blamed the Kremlin for attempting to kill the two in the British town of Salisbury using a Novichok nerve agent, a claim Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied.

The news came as Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday he had delivered a letter from President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin proposing cooperation.

A congressional proposal to add sanctions targeting state-controlled banks and the freezing of Russian operations in dollars is also making its way around the hill.

Faced with a new round of US -sanctions over alleged chemical weapons use, Russia denounced the move as an "illegal" gesture that defied attempts by President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin aimed at improving relations during a recent summit. "And our American friends need to understand this".

The new sanctions will take effect on or around 22 August, and relate to the exports of sensitive electronic components and other technologies.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it had been determined that Russian Federation "has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of global law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals".

"The UK welcomes this further action by our United States allies", a spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

"Sanctions are the USA weapon of choice", Trenin wrote on Twitter. A ban on Aeroflot flights to the United States could lead to a ban on US airlines traversing Russian airspace. But if new sanctions proposed by Congress and the State Department are implemented in full, something that remains uncertain, some economists fear growth would be nearly cut to zero in future. Bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress last week would punish Russia's energy and financial sectors and sanction Russian sovereign debt.

The Russian Embassy in Washington said the "draconian" new sanctions against Russia weren't backed by any facts or evidence, noting that while the USA said it has enough information to conclude that Russia is to blame, it refused to disclose what it has, saying the information is classified. After its latest dive Thursday, the ruble had fallen to roughly 66 to the dollar - a decline that harms the buying power of Russians interested in traveling overseas or in buying foreign goods.

The British government welcomed the USA decision to impose fresh sanctions on Russian Federation.

The head of the foreign-relations committee of Russia's Senate, Konstantin Kosachev, compared the new sanctions to a "lynching".

Lawmakers in Washington had to partially roll back a 2014 ban on Russian engines in military and spy satellite launches due to USA reliance on the RD-180.

President Vladimir Putin discussed what the Kremlin called "possible new unfriendly steps by Washington" with his Security Council on Friday. Analysts described the Russian market as stunned by the weight of the new sanctions. "Because of this it's far from clear that a decline in people's material condition will by itself lead to Putin's popular support melting away".

  • Eleanor Harrison