The Kremlin on Aug. 9 responded to new U.S. sanctions accusing it of conducting an illegal chemical attack, calling them “unacceptable.”
The sanctions, announced by the U.S. State Department on Aug. 8, followed the reported use of the nerve agent “novichok” by Russia in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal. The department accused Russia of violating the international law through its use of the lethal chemical weapon.
The nerve agent was found on the front door of Skripal’s home.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin considers the new sanctions “categorically unacceptable” and “illegal,” while adding that Russia “still retains hopes of building constructive relations with Washington.”
The Kremlin also denied all accusations that it was involved in the chemical poisoning attack.
“Once again we deny in the strongest terms the accusations about the possible connection of the Russian state to what happened in Salisbury. This is out of the question. Russia did not and does not have, and could not have, any connection to the use of chemical weapons,” Peskov said.
The U.S. sanctions are expected to take effect on or around Aug. 22, following a 15-day congressional notification period. The sanctions will cover sensitive national security goods, a senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call.
The official said a second batch of “more draconian” sanctions would be imposed after 90 days unless Russia gives “reliable assurances” that it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations.
“If those criteria are not met, it is up to Russia to make that decision, a second round of sanctions … will [have] to be imposed,” the official said. “They are in general more draconian than the first round.”
In April 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on seven of Russia’s richest oligarchs as well as 17 top government officials, to put pressure on President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.