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US to slap crippling sanctions on Russia over nerve agent attack in Britain

Press Trust of India  |  Washington/London 

The US today said it will impose tough new sanctions on after determining that used a deadly military-grade to kill a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK.

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter were hospitalised and treated for a attack in March. While Yulia was discharged from a in April, her father recovered and left the hospital in May.

The State Department said in a statement that the sanctions were in response to the use of a 'Novichok' in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen and his daughter on March 4.

has rejected allegations levelled by the UK that it was behind the deadly nerve-agent attack in the English city of

The US, on August 6, determined that the "has used or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used or biological weapons against its own nationals," State Department said.

The statement said that following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect around August 22.

The State Department notified yesterday of the first of two potential tranches of sanctions required under the 1991 law. Unless takes certain steps, a second set of penalties -- more stringent than this first round -- must follow, according to the law.

The first set of sanctions targets certain items the US exports to Russia that could have military uses -- so-called These are sensitive goods that normally would go through a case-by-case review before they are exported. With these sanctions, the exports will be presumptively denied, reported.

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

Relations between Russia and the West hit a new low after the nerve agent attack in the UK. More than 20 countries expelled Russian envoys in solidarity with the UK.

quoted a State Department as saying that the sanctions could have a significant impact on trade with Russia, including prohibition of licenses on sending some US goods there, such as

"But unless Russia agrees within 90 days to stop all use of and permit inspections to confirm their elimination, additionally mandated measures could cut off almost all trade between the two countries, prohibit landing rights for Russian airlines, and lead to a suspension of diplomatic relations," report said.

In March, the had ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the US, following similar actions taken by other countries in the wake of the allegation by the UK that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack.

Of the 60 expelled, 12 are intelligence operatives from the to the who have been accused of abusing their privilege of residence in the

"After a review, we have determined that the 12 intelligence operatives engaged in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security. Our actions are consistent with the UN Headquarters Agreement," US to the UN Nikki Haley had said.

Russia had responded with a similar number of diplomatic expulsions and ordered the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city.

Britain welcomed the move from the US. In a short statement, a said, "The strong international response to the use of a on the streets of sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behaviour will not go unchallenged."

The in the US hit back today, 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

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 13:40 IST