US pre­pares more sanctions on Rus­sia over UK nerve at­tack

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: The United States said on Tues­day it was pre­par­ing more sanctions against Moscow over the at­tempted as­sas­si­na­tion in Bri­tain of a for­mer spy, after a pre­vi­ous round sowed chaos on Rus­sian mar­kets.

Three months after the United States de­clared that Rus­sia vi­o­lated a US law that seeks the elim­i­na­tion of chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons, the State De­part­ment told Congress in a legally-man­dated fol­low-up that Moscow had not come into com­pli­ance.

“We in­tend to pro­ceed in ac­cor­dance with the terms of the (Chem­i­cal and Bi­o­log­i­cal Weapons) Act, which di­rects the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ad­di­tional sanctions,” State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said in a state­ment.

She said the State De­part­ment was in dis­cus­sions with Congress, which has led the push to pun­ish Rus­sia, to de­ter­mine the ex­act mea­sures. Bri­tish in­ves­ti­ga­tors said Rus­sian op­er­a­tives on March 4 tried to kill Sergei Skri­pal, a for­mer in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer and dou­ble agent, and his daugh­ter Yu­lia Skri­pal in the English city of Sal­is­bury. The at­tack in­volved Novi­chok, a mil­i­tary-grade nerve agent de­vel­oped by the Soviet Union dur­ing the Cold War.

The two Rus­sians sur­vived but a third per­son died after ex­po­sure.

Un­der the US law, the State De­part­ment must slap fur­ther sanctions three months after its ini­tial de­ter­mi­na­tion un­less a coun­try proves it has re­versed course on chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons, for ex­am­ple by invit­ing in in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors.

Rus­sia has de­nied in­volve­ment in the Sal­is­bury at­tacks and has promised re­cip­ro­cal mea­sures to all US sanctions.


Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev warned in Au­gust that any im­po­si­tion of fur­ther sanctions would con­sti­tute a “dec­la­ra­tion of eco­nomic war.”

The Krem­lin said new sanctions would be il­le­gal and that Rus­sia would re­spond with sim­i­lar mea­sures.

And in com­ments after Democrats seized con­trol of the lower house of the US Congress in Tues­day’s midterm elec­tions, Rus­sia said it did not fore­see bi­lat­eral ties im­prov­ing any time soon.

“Rosy prospects for the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of Rus­sian-US ties are not vis­i­ble on the hori­zon,” Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told re­porters.

He in­sisted, how­ever, that Rus­sia still wanted di­a­logue with the US. Law­mak­ers across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum have urged a strong re­sponse to Rus­sia, de­spite Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s avowed affin­ity for Putin. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ed Royce, a Repub­li­can and out­go­ing chair­man of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion needs to act quickly on new sanctions, adding: “Hes­i­ta­tion only en­cour­ages more Rus­sian ag­gres­sion.”

“No one should be sur­prised that Vladimir Putin re­fuses to swear off fu­ture use of weapon­s­grade nerve agents,” Royce said in a state­ment.

“It is un­ac­cept­able that the ad­min­is­tra­tion lacks a plan -- or even a timeline -- for ac­tion on the sec­ond round of manda­tory sanctions re­quired by US law,” he added.

File photo

ON GUARD: A po­lice of­fi­cer guards a cor­doned off area in the city cen­tre where for­mer Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter were found poi­soned, in Sal­is­bury, Bri­tain.-

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