U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Nerve-Agent Attack on Ex-Spy in U.K.

August 8, 2018, 7:59 PM UTC

The U.S. announced new sanctions on Russia Wednesday, saying it’s made a final determination that Vladimir Putin’s government was responsible for the March 4 nerve-agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K.

The State Department said in a statement that under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, Russia was found to have “used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or had used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.”

The sanctions added to pressure on the ruble that began earlier in the day, when Russian media published the full text of a separate U.S. bill seeking “crushing sanctions” for election meddling. The currency sank toward its weakest close since November 2016.

The State Department said the sanctions tied to the use of chemical weapons are expected to take effect around August 22 but didn’t immediately say what they would entail.

In March, the U.S. expelled 60 Russian diplomats as part of a joint response with allies to the nerve-agent attack. Russia responded by ordering an equal number of U.S. envoys to leave.

While Skripal and his daughter survived the attack attributed to the Russian nerve agent Novichok, a British woman died and her companion became gravely ill after coming in contact with the substance just miles from the site of the March attack.

The new sanctions follow criticism of President Donald Trump for his refusal to call out Putin directly for transgressions including interference in the 2016 presidential election.

While Trump has cast doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies’ finding that Russia interfered in the election and sought to help him win, his administration has repeatedly expanded U.S. sanctions on Russia as top officials have reaffirmed the findings on Russian election interference.