Thu. 8:45 a.m.: Kremlin denounces new U.S. sanctions against Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Kremlin has denounced new U.S. sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy as a breach of international law.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said today that “the restrictions are absolutely unlawful and don’t conform to international law.”

The State Department said Wednesday the U.S. made the determination that Russia had used the Novichok nerve agent to poison former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, and that sanctions would follow later this month.

Peskov reaffirmed Moscow’s strong denial of involvement in the poisoning, saying that “there can’t be any talk about Russia having any relation to the use of chemical weapons.”

He added that Britain has failed to present any evidence to back the claim and stonewalled Russia’s proposal for a joint probe.

Britain blamed Russia for the March attack soon after in occurred, prompting Western nations, including the United States, to expel scores of Russian diplomats. Russia retaliated with similar expulsions.

British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the U.S. Decision. May’s Downing Street office issued a statement today saying the move sends “an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behavior will not go unchallenged.”

Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said today that the U.S. has behaved like a “police state, threatening and torturing a suspect to get evidence.”

Kosachev argued that the new sanctions amount to “inflicting a punishment in the absence of a crime in the tradition of lynch law.”

The State Department said Wednesday the U.S. made the determination this week that Russia had used the Novichok nerve agent to poison Skripal and his daughter, and that sanctions would follow. It said Congress is being notified and that the sanctions would take effect on or around Aug. 22, when the finding is to be published in the Federal Register.

Those sanctions will include the presumed denial of export licenses for Russia to purchase many items with national security implications, according to a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to do so by name.

The U.S. made a similar determination in February when it found that North Korea used a chemical weapon to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017.

Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by the military-grade nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March. Both eventually recovered. Months later, two residents of a nearby town with no ties to Russia were also poisoned by the deadly toxin. Police believe the couple accidentally found a bottle containing Novichok. One of them died.


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