Russian Federation calls fresh USA sanctions "illegal"

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Russia news The US has hit out at Russia over the Salisbury attack

Washington said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions on Russia by the end of August after it determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain.

The State Department said the sanctions were aimed at punishing Moscow for having "used chemical or biological weapons in violation of global law", mandated under the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

USA officials say the order is meant to answer the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

The first set of sanctions covered by that announcement, which USA officials said target export licenses of sensitive US technologies and industrial equipment, such as electronics, calibration equipment, and gas turbine engines, are expected to enter into force around August 22.

The Government has been consistent in pointing the finger of blame at Moscow for the poisoning using novichok - a military-grade nerve agent developed by the former Soviet Union.

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The US government has concluded that Moscow was behind the attack in March which targeted former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

This comes one day after Washington announced it would impose more sanctions on Russia over the United Kingdom nerve agent attack that targeted a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

The UK government has accused Russian Federation of being behind the attack, but the Kremlin has continuously denied involvement.

The tough message from Dmitry Medvedev marked what the Kremlin sees as a red line, reflecting a growing dismay with the new USA sanctions that already has sent the Russian ruble plummeting to its lowest level in two years.

The US is trying to play up this "anti-Russian topic as a way to continue demonizing Russia" and make it appear that it is not fulfilling its global obligations, Zakharova said.

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The warning, from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, reflects Russian fears over the impact of new restrictions on its economy and assets, including the rouble which has lost almost six percent of its value this week on sanctions jitters.

However, the department says it will exempt aid to civil society and humanitarian groups and allow exports needed for continued U.S. -Russia cooperation in space. Earlier, American Airlines and United Airlines stopped flying to Russian Federation.

Moscow has been trying with mixed success to improve battered US-Russia ties since Donald Trump won the White House in 2016, and Russia's political elite was quick to chalk up a summit last month between Trump and Vladimir Putin as a victory.

The sanctions were imposed under the provisions of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which mandates that once the government has determined that a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of worldwide law or even made "substantial preparations" to do so, sanctions must be imposed.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures were to counter "malicious actors" working to "increase Russia's offensive cyber-capabilities".

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House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce, who had pushed months ago for Trump to take action over Russia's use of banned weapons, applauded the move as "key to increasing pressure on Russian Federation". Dawn Sturgess later died while her partner, Charlie Rowley, spent three weeks recovering in hospital.

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