US to impose new sanctions on Russia for nerve attack in UK

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The Trump administration will impose sanctions on Russia under a chemical and biological warfare law following the poisoning of a former Russian agent and his daughter in the United Kingdom earlier this year, the State Department announced Wednesday.

Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by the Novichok military-grade nerve agent in the English town of Salisbury in March.

Britain has accused Russian Federation of being behind the attack, which the Kremlin has vehemently denied.

A State Department official Wednesday said the delay in issuing the sanctions did not reflect any hesitation on the part of the Trump administration.

It would reportedly include more drastic measures, such as downgrading diplomatic relations, banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the USA and cutting off almost all exports and imports.

Pushed to take action by the Republican lawmaker who chairs the House's Foreign Affairs Committee, the Trump administration moved on Wednesday to take delayed action.

Charlie Rowley, 45, was released from a hospital last month, but his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after exposure.

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London and its allies have accused Moscow of trying to kill the Skripals and says the two cases are likely linked.

President Trump met with Putin at a summit in July. The statement anticipated the sanctions would go into effect around August 22 in line with the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

In response to the announcement, the Russian Embassy in the US issued a statement referring to "far-fetched accusations" and saying Russian officials had yet to hear any facts or evidence and that the USA had refused to answer questions.

While criticized as too keen to strike up a friendship with Putin, Trump maintains that he's been tough on Moscow.

A State Department official denied that the actions undermined President Trump's continued assertions that he would like to improve relations with Russian Federation.

But the Russian finance ministry, quoted by Ria-Novosti news agency, sought to allay fears, saying the measures ultimately might not be put in place, though it acknowledged that markets were "once again under pressure".