US imposes sanctions on Russia for nerve agent attack in UK

Parts of the city of Salisbury were sealed off after the nerve agent attack

The United States has said it will hit Russia with new sanctions aimed at punishing Moscow for the March nerve-agent poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

The action follows the US Treasury's imposition of sanctions in March against 19 Russian citizens and five entities for interfering in the 2016 US election - the toughest steps against Moscow since MR Trump took office.

On March 4, Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia for spying for the United Kingdom but later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement explaining the sanctions.

After pressure from Republican members of Congress, the state department has determined Moscow broke worldwide law by using a military grade chemical weapon on the Skripals.

Trump has not shied away from condemning the Skripal attack, but critics have questioned why it has taken the USA government so long to impose the new sanctions in response.

She said sanctions would take effect on or around August 22.

The second round of sanctions could cut far deeper, including blocking all American bank loans to Russian entities, an outright ban on U.S. exports to Russia, and suspension of diplomatic relations.

A State Department official told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday that Washington informed Russian Federation "this afternoon" about the sanctions.

The Guardian this week reported the Government is set to submit an extradition request to Moscow for two Russians suspected of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

"In both these cases, the deadlines were not met-it's more the norm for us to be late", the official said.

In March, the US expelled 60 Russian diplomats as part of a joint response with allies to the nerve-agent attack.

The news came as Republican US Senator Rand Paul said he had delivered a letter from US President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin proposing cooperation. Three months later a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after being poisoned by novichok in a...

The administration acted on the same mandate in 2017, imposing new sanctions on North Korea after a chemical attack in the worldwide airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, killed the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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