USA to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation for nerve attack in UK

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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".

The US sanctions came despite President Donald Trump's efforts to improve relations with Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, and his harsh criticism of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, accused the US of behaving like a 'police state, threatening and torturing a suspect to get evidence'.

Elaborating in a briefing today, a State Department official said the most significant sanction is "the imposition of a presumption of denial for all national security sensitive goods or technologies that are controlled by the Department of Commerce pursuant to the Export Administration Regulations".

The sanctions are mandated under the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which says the USA president shall tighten the penalties within 90 days unless Moscow provides "reliable assurances" that it no longer engages in such activities, and allows on-site inspections by United Nations observers.

A second set of measures could be substantially broader and would be imposed if Moscow fails to meet a 90-day deadline to provide "reliable assurances" it will no longer use chemical weapons, allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or other worldwide observer groups, and respond to other USA demands. Peskov said in a conference call with reporters that it needs to see what specific action the USA takes before retaliating. Instead, Russia is likely to respond with its own sanctions.

Earlier in the day the Kremlin hit back at the "categorically unacceptable" measures, describing them as "absolutely illegal".

USA urges Canada and Saudi Arabia to resolve feud
Bin Salman is the second most senior member of the Saudi regime, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Canadian investments in Saudi Arabia were still ongoing and would not be affected by the dispute, he said.

"The administration is rightly acting to uphold global bans on the use of chemical weapons", said Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Legislation introduced last week in draft form by Republican and Democratic senators, dubbed "the sanctions bill from hell" by one of its sponsors, calls for sanctions to be widened to include virtually all Russian energy projects and to effectively bar Western companies from any involvement in the country.

The announcement of the sanctions on Thursday prompted Russian stocks and the ruble to tumble. Britain, the United States and other nations have accused Russian Federation of ordering the poisonings.

As a result, Russian analysts say that fresh sanctions are unlikely to weaken Putin, at least in the short term.

"In this situation, building relations is impossible to even speak about".

"Today's step is an important but moderate set of sanctions", said Peter Harrell, a sanctions official in the Obama administration, adding that further sanctions expected in three months "could be among the most severe yet, but could also be quite modest, depending on where the Trump administration wants to go".

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