Kremlin denounces new U.S. sanctions as illegal

Roman Schwartz
August 10, 2018

The sanctions were imposed under the provisions of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which mandates that once the government has determined that a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of worldwide law or even made "substantial preparations" to do so, sanctions must be imposed.

The Kremlin on Thursday vowed to retaliate against "unacceptable" new U.S. sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain, which prompted the ruble and Russian stocks to tumble.

United Kingdom foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked the U.S. for its intervention, saying in a tweet that nerve agents and other "horrific" weapons must not become a new norm, and "states like Russian Federation that use or condone their use need to know there is a price to pay".

The US administration is obliged to act, under legislation, if chemical or biological weapons have been used.

Russia's government slammed as "unacceptable" on Thursday new US sanctions against Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with spokesman Dmitry Peskov, center, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi on May 18.

He criticised the U.S. decision to link the sanctions to the British nerve agent case, an incident the Kremlin has long cast as a Western plot to damage its reputation and provide a pretext for more sanctions. One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, later died, leading police to launch a murder inquiry.

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Peskov said the sanctions were contrary to the "constructive atmosphere" established during U.S. President Donald Trump's July summit with Putin in Helsinki. Our provision of foreign assistance is a tool of USA power and influence, and we're not going to foreswear that just because we have the obligation to impose some sanctions against Russian Federation. Russia's embassy in the USA called the measures draconian.

In March former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were poisoned with a Soviet-designed nerve agent known as Novichok.

In Moscow, the ruble shed as much as 5% against the dollar on Thursday and stocks plunged as much as 9%, led by state banks and national carrier PJSC Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, which risk losing access to US markets if the sanctions escalate.

"This whole accusatory pyramid is being built in the absence of any legal substantiation, but they're still telling us about global law and respect for legal obligations", Zakharova told the Moscow briefing.

Although the sanctions will not go into effect until August 22, they already are affecting the Russian economy.

Washington had become an unpredictable player on the worldwide stage, Peskov added, saying "anything could be expected" from it and that it was important that Russia's financial system, which he described as stable, was prepared.

"We are being threatened with further escalation of sanctions pressure", she said. Paul's meeting with Putin will allow Trump to communicate this uncomfortable decision with some diplomatic cordiality.

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