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US imposes sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisonings

Sky News logo Sky News 8/9/2018

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March © Sky News Screen Grab Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March The US state department will impose sanctions on Russia after it determined Moscow used a nerve agent to attack the Skripals. 

The US expelled a number of Russian diplomats as part of an international response to the attack, when the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were taken ill in March.

The US state department will impose sanctions on Russia after it determined Moscow used a nerve agent to attack the Skripals. © Press Association The US state department will impose sanctions on Russia after it determined Moscow used a nerve agent to attack the Skripals.

State department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "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 6 August 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."

Related: Yulia Skripal: world has turned upside down after assassination attempt (Reuters)

She said sanctions would take effect on or around 22 August, after a 15-day congressional notification period.

NBC reports a senior official as saying the initial sanctions will be a ban on granting licences to export sensitive national security goods to Russia.

A government spokesperson said: "The UK welcomes this further action by our US allies. 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."

Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover an ambulance with a tarpaulin at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018 © Getty Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover an ambulance with a tarpaulin at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018 Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were in intensive care for several weeks after being poisoned with the chemical substance at his home in Salisbury in March.

They were found in a serious condition on a bench in The Maltings shopping centre, and the discovery of the substance sparked a city-wide investigation with police having to cordon off large areas, including where they had eaten dinner that evening.

Also on MSN: Novichok poisonings - How events unfolded

Three months later, Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after they came into contact with the substance, which was found in a sealed perfume bottle. Ms Sturgess later died.

The UK government has accused Russia of being behind the attack, but the Kremlin has continuously denied involvement.

The US treasury has already imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, taking steps against 19 people and five entities.

Vladimir Putin has denied Russian involvement in the novichok poisonings in Wiltshire © Getty Vladimir Putin has denied Russian involvement in the novichok poisonings in Wiltshire

Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told Sky News: "The state dept announced they would undertake their own process to come to their own conclusions when this happened.

"This backs up what other intelligence services and the British services have found. It shows the special relationship between the UK and the US.

Dawn Sturgess © Other Dawn Sturgess "President Trump believes there is a way to work with Russia where they have common issues, but their behaviour gets worse, and the US has to be part of the international response.

"Most of the allied nations are relieved to see this step happening today."

He said the sanctions were "significant", even if their response had been slower than others.

Charlie Rowley © Other Charlie Rowley

Mr Mackowiak also said there could be a push from Congress for even greater sanctions amid the investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.

The news of sanctions comes hours after Senator Rand Paul said he delivered a letter from Mr Trump to Russian president Vladimir Putin which proposed "further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges".

Mr Trump has invited Mr Putin to the White House.

Reports earlier this week that the UK was preparing to request the extradition of two Russians it suspected of being behind the attack were found to be less advanced than initially suggested, Sky sources said.

Russia's embassy in London said they had not received any extradition requests over allegations any of its citizens were involved in the novichok poisonings.

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