March 26, 2019
Latest News
European Union

US punishes Russia for UK nerve agent attack

 An Airbus A320 of Russian carrier Aeroflot taxi at Riga International Airport in Riga, Lativa, Dec. 21, 2016. EPA-EFE/FILE/VALDA KALNINA

An Airbus A320 of Russian carrier Aeroflot taxi at Riga International Airport in Riga, Lativa, Dec. 21, 2016. EPA-EFE/FILE/VALDA KALNINA

Washington, Aug 8 (efe-epa).- The United States unveiled a new series of sanctions on Moscow over a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom, in a rare direct confrontation that could escalate into a broad series of diplomatic and economic measures between the two countries, according to a report from Dow Jones Newswires made available to EFE on Thursday.

The US announcement Wednesday included an additional threat to follow through with a second round of measures in 90 days' time if Russia doesn't meet a list of three criteria.

The move marked an escalation in US efforts to punish the Kremlin, which already is under a US sanctions regime for its 2014 invasion of Crimea.

President Donald Trump has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats in Congress for not standing up to President Vladimir Putin over a host of issues, including Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has said he would be tough on Russia but also favors good relations, although his room to maneuver may be hemmed in by the new sanctions.

The sanctions were triggered by a US intelligence conclusion that Russia had used a nerve agent in the UK poisoning, State Department officials said.

UK authorities say it was highly likely Moscow was responsible for the March attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

An American official portrayed the move as part of the administration's unified approach against Moscow. "We are all one administration, and we are all on the same page here," the official said. "We are tough on Russia."

Russia didn't immediately comment on the US announcement, Dow Jones added in a report supplied to EFE.

Officials said the first round of sanctions could prevent hundreds of millions of dollars of sophisticated US equipment from reaching Russian state-owned companies and will require the US to halt aid to Russia, except for urgent humanitarian assistance such as food and agricultural products.

Joint US-Russian space flight activities will also be exempt from sanctions, but the measures also ban all arms sales, terminate export licenses and prohibit other forms of military financing assistance.

As mandated by US law, the three conditions that Russia must meet to avoid a second round of sanctions include halting the use of chemical and biological weapons, providing assurances that it no longer plans to use them and offering international observers or others the opportunity to verify that it is meeting these criteria.

The first round will take effect later this month, the State Department said in a statement.

The second tranche, if ultimately triggered, includes downgrading or suspending diplomatic relations, suspending flights between the US and Russia, and restricting imports of Russian goods.

Russia watchers say Moscow is unlikely to comply with US criteria that would prevent the second round kicking in, which holds more far-reaching consequences for diplomatic relations and the country's economy.

The UK praised the move and said it would send a strong signal to Russia.

"The strong international response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behavior will not go unchallenged," a UK spokesperson said.

The Senate is poised to consider separate sanctions that could prove more painful for Russia because of their potential to affect the banking sector. Legislation introduced Aug. 1 by a bipartisan group led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) is intended to punish and deter malign activity including election interference and use of chemical and biological weapons.

Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, characterized the first round of sanctions as "pretty mild," but said the potential second round "could be more onerous" as it would involve a degradation of diplomatic relations and restrictions on flights by Aeroflot, the flag carrier of the Russian Federation.

Those elements, she said, "will be painful, and they will affect the Russian pride."

While the Russian government may offer "lots of assurances" of its compliance in an effort to avoid a second, more crippling round of sanctions, Putin's regime will assuredly "not allow any inspections, " Farkas said.

Skripal, a 66-year-old former colonel in Russian military intelligence who has lived in Britain since a 2010 spy exchange, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in the English city of Salisbury in March and were critically ill for weeks.

UK authorities have said it was highly likely Russia was responsible, a charge Russia has denied.

The sanctions potentially will affect hundreds of millions of dollars of sophisticated US technology exports, such as turbines and calibration equipment, to Russian state-owned entities.

The potential second round of sanctions discussed by State Department officials represents "the worst-case scenario for the Russians," involving a "complete breakdown in diplomatic and economic relations," said Boris Zilberman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Zilberman predicted that the Russians could "rebuff this as their standard protocol and call the administration's bluff," pinning their hopes to the president's desire to improve relations.

In the days after the attack, the US, along with Canada and more than a dozen European countries, expelled scores of Russian diplomats and intelligence officers. Russia retaliated by expelling dozens of Western diplomats.

In July, a woman in the UK died after coming into contact with the same nerve agent used to poison Skripal and his daughter. Authorities believed she inadvertently had been exposed to items that had been contaminated.

British police opened a murder investigation over the death, Dow Jones added in a report supplied to EFE.

Given Russia's strenuous denials of responsibility for the U.K poisonings, Farkas, of the Atlantic Council, said it was unlikely that Moscow would comply with US demands. "Within the relevant international [bodies], the Russians have been absolutely uncooperative, and indignant, and lying," she said.

By Jessica Donati and Courtney McBride

News history
Islamic State terror group lost its Syrian base, now militants await trial

Madrid, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- A coalition of 74 countries that contributed to the defeat of the Islamic State terror organization’s so-called caliphate has...

Europe leaders urge reciprocity as China pushes trade expansion (Report)

By Marta Garde

China’s offer of trade deal places strains on glue binding the European Union

By Enrique Rubio

Mexican US resident, alleged ringleader of North Korean embassy assault

Madrid, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- A Mexican citizen living in the US was the alleged ringleader of an assault on the North Korean embassy in Madrid after which he...

Artists revamp Prague's John Lennon Wall

Prague, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- A wall in the Czech capital that has for almost half a century drawn urban artists to use it as a canvas to spread political...

Art sleuth finds long-lost Picasso in Amsterdam

By Imane Rachidi

UK Prime Minister: Not suficient support for third Brexit deal vote

London, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said Monday that she does not currently have enough support to pass her withdrawal deal...

Tate Britain show explores lasting impact of UK culture on Van Gogh

London, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- An exhibition that explores Vincent van Gogh's relationship with British culture, his influences and how he later left his stamp...

Turkey's opposition struggles to be heard in the media ahead of elections

By Dogan Tilic and Lara Villalon

Put it to the People march in London

By Paula Baena Velasco

Port of Rotterdam authorities brace for Brexit

By Imane Rachidi

One million people pack central London calling for 2nd Brexit vote

London, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- A million people packed central London on Saturday to call for a second referendum on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the...

Chinese President in Italy to boost commercial ties via Silk Road initiative

Rome, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- The Chinese president met his Italian counterpart on Friday to boost commercial ties with an infrastructure and development...

Spanish soccer league La Liga signs anti racism collaboration

Cairo, Mar 21 (efe-epa).- La Liga has paired up with the United Nations migration agency in Egypt Thursday to help combat racism.

Anne Imhof's "Sex" performance previews at Tate Modern in London

London, Mar 21 (efe-epa).- German artist Anne Imhof on Thursday previewed "Sex," the first chapter of a live performance art trilogy commissioned by the...

The guitolão: a rare Portuguese string instrument of which only 3 exist

By Carlos García

Bardot, denunciada por insultos racistas hacia los habitantes de La Reunión

Paris, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- Former French film star Brigitte Bardot was accused of racism Wednesday over remarks about the people of Réunion Island in a...

British Museum previews Munch's haunting "The Scream" ahead of UK show

London, March 20 (efe-eap).- The British Museum in London on Wednesday previewed an Edvard Munch lithograph print of his iconic "The Scream" series as...

Google fined 1.5bn euro by European Commision over advertising

Brussels, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- American technology giant Google was fined 1.49 billion euro ($1.7 billion) Wednesday by the European Commission for blocking...

Rome Assembly president arrested on alleged corruption charges in Italy

Rome, March 20 (efe-epa).- The president of Rome's City Council, a member of the Five Star Movement which rules in coalition with the far-right Lega party,...

Dear Donald: UK's May pens letter to EU in search of short Brexit delay

London, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom's prime minister has on Wednesday written to the European Union to ask for an extension to the Brexit...

President Donald Trump embraces closer ties with Brazil

Washington, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said he intended to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally, a move that would deepen the US's...

French expert: Chantilly naked Mona Lisa sketch drafted in da Vinci's studio

Chantilly, France, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- Leonardo Da Vinci's left-handedness was the key to attributing a charcoal sketch known as Mona Lisa's naked sister to...

Man honing knife on Spanish metro in video that went viral was ham cutter

Madrid, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- A man seen sharpening a large knife on the Madrid metro in a video that went viral online was a professional ham cutter going to...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.