United States to impose sanctions on Russian Federation over nerve attack in UK

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     TARGETED Sergei and Yulia Skripal were exposed to Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok

British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the US decision.

Pro-Putin lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov who in 2016 prompted the Russian parliament to erupt in applause when he announced Trump had won the White House, called for a tough response.

On Wednesday, Russia's Kommersant daily published excerpts from another piece of draft U.S. legislation which proposes a ban on United States citizens purchasing Russian sovereign debt as well as steps against the country's biggest banks as well as its oil and gas sector, a key driver of the economy.

The new sanctions come in two tranches.

Moscow would consider new US sanctions in the financial sector "a declaration of economic war", Russian prime minister said on Friday.

A second set of potentially more serious measures will be introduced only if Moscow fails to provide reliable assurances it will no longer use chemical weapons and blocks on-site inspections. "This would be with respect to whether or not we approve an export licence of technology that could be used by or provided to Aeroflot".

State Department officials said there would be "carve-outs" in the sanctions for "the provision of foreign assistance to Russia and to the Russian people", as well as for joint spaceflight activities and commercial aviation.

The announcement of U.S. sanctions caused the value of the rouble to plunge early on Thursday and Russian stock markets to fall.

"There is local panic on the currency market", BCS Brokerage said in a note. "And our American friends must understand that".

Russia denies any involvement in the Skripal attack, but the use of Novichok on a former mole for the British sent a loud and unnuanced message of its own to other Russians who work with foreign intelligence.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on 4 March, having been poisoned by Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously denied allegations that Russia was behind the poisonings, saying in March that it was "unthinkable that we would do such a thing".

Peskov also reaffirmed Moscow's strong denial of involvement in the poisoning, saying that 'there can't be any talk about Russian Federation having any relation to the use of chemical weapons'.

"The U.S.is once again behaving like a police state, beating out evidence from suspects by threats and torture", he told Interfax.

The Salisbury attack in March also coincides with other recent actions inside the USA that were similarly audacious, including intricate influence operations in both the 2016 and 2018 elections and a hack of the US energy grid.

"They are not an instrument, but the policy itself".

At variance with Moscow over Ukraine and Syria, 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. There will also be some further restrictions on Russian access to U.S. financial services.

It comes after Republican and Democrat senators introduced a draft bill last week proposing curbs on several Russian-owned banks operating in the United States and restrictions on their use of the dollar.

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