US decides to impose new sanctions on Russia over Skripal case

US decides to impose new sanctions on Russia over Skripal case

The United States authorities are imposing new sanctions on Russia because of the Skripal case, the US Department of State said in a statement on August 8.

"Following the use of a 'Novichok' nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals," the statement runs.

The sanctions will take effect on August 22, the State Department noted.

The sanctions are structured in two tranches. The biggest impact from the initial sanctions is expected to come from a ban on granting licenses to export sensitive national security goods to Russia, which in the past have included items like electronic devices and components, along with test and calibration equipment for avionics. Before the sanctions, such exports were allowed on a case-by-case basis.

A second round kicks in three months later unless Russia provides "reliable assurances" that it won't use chemical weapons in the future and agrees to "on-site inspections" by the United Nations. The second round of sanctions could include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending the state airline Aeroflot's ability to fly to the United States and cutting off nearly all exports and imports.

A senior US State Department official said that the new US sanctions on Russia will particularly concern "national security sensitive goods.

"We intend to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation in a number of respects, the most significant of which is the imposition of a presumption of denial for all national security sensitive goods or technologies that are controlled by the Department of Commerce pursuant to the Export Administration Regulations," the official said, adding that "these goods are currently subject to a license - a case-by-case license determination, but we are - henceforth, when these sanctions go into effect, we will be presumptively denying such applications."

"We anticipate that a Federal Register notice will be put out that will make these official," he noted.

"We are applying these sanctions against essentially all state - Russian state-owned or state-funded enterprises. That’s potentially a very great sweep of the Russian economy in terms of the potentially affected end users… something on the order of 70% of their economy and maybe 40% of their workforce falls within those enterprises," the State Department official added.

On March 4, Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia for spying for the UK but later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Police said they suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent.

Later on, London claimed that the Novichok-class toxin had been developed in Russia. The UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved failing to furnish any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations stating that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had ever done research on that toxic agent.

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