The US must make Putin pay for his nerve agent attack

Alicia Cross
August 10, 2018

Reuters curiously leaves out the catalyst for the sanctions applied by the White House, never mentioning the assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal and the Russian use of a chemical weapon in the United Kingdom, a key U.S. ally.

"Once again we totally reject any allegations of possible Russian government involvement over what happened in Salisbury", Peskov said Thursday, adding that "Russia did not have and does not have anything to do with the use of chemical weapons".

The sanctions are mandated under the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US move runs contrary to a "constructive" atmosphere at the Trump-Putin summit last month, and he strongly denied any Russian role in the poisoning in Britain.

The United Kingdom blamed Russia for the attack, resulting in the expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from the U.K., U.S. and other allies.

While both Skripals survived the attack, the US sided with Britain in determining Russian Federation was responsible after investigators concluded the would-be assassins used a Soviet-era nerve toxin known as "Novichok".

It said Congress is being notified of the August 6 determination and that the sanctions would take effect on or around August 22, when the finding is to be published in the Federal Register.

One of the people slapped with sanctions was oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire who ran Russian aluminum giant Rusal, which was also sanctioned.

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

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A former Defense Department official, Mark Simakovsky, said Wednesday that a second tranche would target Russian exports to the USA and theoretically could include restrictions on flights by the state airline Aeroflot as well as a downgrade of diplomatic relations. (Authorities believe a British woman's death was caused by accidental exposure to the nerve agent).

Ms Zakharova said the United States was "knowingly presenting demands that are unacceptable to us" as conditions for the sanctions to be lifted.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin called the measures "unfriendly" and "unlawful".

"The mandatory sanctions that follow this determination are key to increasing pressure on Russian Federation".

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow had not yet received any official USA request to open up sites once linked to chemical weapons for inspection.

The Russian rouble has slumped to its lowest level since November 2016, hours after the USA announced new sanctions because of the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

Perhaps it's finally dawning on our Russian "friends" that we're not playing around any more.

Trump also ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians, including 12 identified as intelligence officers, and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Two other British citizens fell ill due to Novichok exposure in late June in a town close to Salisbury.

Both Skripal and his daughter survived the attack, but spent weeks recovering in the hospital.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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