Skripal attack: US to sanction Russia over Novichok use

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The US has said it will impose fresh sanctions on Russia after determining it used nerve agent against a former Russian double agent living in the UK.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left seriously ill after being poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in March, though they have now recovered.

A UK investigation blamed Russia for the attack, but the Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement.

Russia has criticised the new sanctions as “draconian.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, the US state department confirmed it was implementing measures against Russia over the incident.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it had been determined that the country “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.”

The British government has welcomed the move.

“The strong international response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behaviour will not go unchallenged,” a UK foreign office statement said.

The Russian embassy to the US hit back on Thursday morning, criticising what it called “far-fetched accusations” from the US that Russia was behind the attack.

Russia had become “accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence,” it said, adding: “We continue to strongly stand for an open and transparent investigation of the crime committed in Salisbury.”

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

The state department said “more draconian” sanctions will follow within 90 days if Russia fails to give reliable assurances it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations.

An official said it was only the third time that the US had determined a country had used chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.

Previous occasions were against Syria and against North Korea for the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of leader Kim Jong-un, who died when highly toxic VX nerve agent was rubbed on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport.

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