USA imposes sanctions on Russian Federation over Salisbury spy poisoning

Roman Schwartz
August 9, 2018

MOSCOW-Russian officials and companies were bracing for further economic pain Thursday, as the US decision to punish the Kremlin for an alleged nerve-agent attack in the United Kingdom diminished hopes of a bilateral thaw.

Unusually, there was no immediate comment by the U.S. president, who has been heavily critical of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. One of the hardest hit was Aeroflot, the Russian state airline, which could lose its ability to fly to the United States as a possible effect of the new sanctions.

After a two-week congressional notification period, the sanctions are set to take effect on August 22, 2018.

Western sanctions have already drastically reduced Western involvement in Russian energy and commodities projects, including large-scale financing and exploration of hard-to-recover and deep water resources.

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that Congress had been notified and that the new sanctions would go into effect on August 22.

The Russian embassy in Washington has described the planned U.S. sanctions as "draconian" and reiterated the Russian position that the accusations they were based on are unfounded.

The sanctions are created to target electronic devices and some large equipment, including aircraft gas turbine engines, with an exemption for equipment used for mutual U.S. -Russia space exploration.

The action by the US State Department is the latest salvo in a series of disputes between the rival powers, and comes less than a month after US President Donald Trump met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

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Analysts in Moscow said it was highly unlikely that Putin would allow inspectors to enter the country to head off the additional sanctions, since doing so would look like succumbing to USA pressure.

The United States will impose sanctions on Russian Federation for its alleged use of a nerve gas agent in an attempt to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England. He added that the new sanctions amount to "inflicting a punishment in the absence of a crime in the tradition of lynch law".

"The risk of rate moves over the next 12 months is weighted more toward cuts than hikes, and financial markets will price the risk accordingly", said Kiwibank's chief economist, Jarrod Kerr.

The Skripals survived the attack but a British couple was poisoned by the same Novichok agent in a nearby town, one of whom, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, subsequently died. His administration has sanctioned a number of Russian officials and oligarchs for human rights abuses and election meddling.

The Russian embassy in the USA hit back on Thursday morning.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a former colonel in the Russian army, said the State Department's move looked like the latest salvo in what he called a hybrid war.

"We heard the official statements [of the US] about the so-called new sanctions and we heard some high-profile source saying that some restrictions could be introduced against Russia", Peskov stressed.

There would, however, be exemptions for space flight activities, government space cooperation, and areas covering commercial passenger aviation safety, which would be reviewed on a case by case basis, the official added.

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