Trump admin approves new sanctions on Russia that could reach ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’

DCNFSteve Birr, DCNF

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration is preparing new sanctions against Russia following its use of a nerve agent in the U.K. in “violation of international law.”

Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State, said Wednesday it notified the Kremlin about the impending sanctions, which will likely be imposed on Aug. 22 after the required 15-day congressional notification period. They represent the latest response from Washington to the chemical weapons attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter in the U.K. in March, reported Reuters.

A senior State Department official said the sanctions will apply to “all national security sensitive goods or technologies that are controlled by the Department of Commerce.” He noted there will be exemptions, including for issues concerning space flight and aviation safety.

“It is possible that this trade – the trade it affected could reach potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, but it also depends upon what Russia – Russian entities in fact apply to purchase,” the official said during a special briefing Wednesday. “So really, it’s up to Russia how dramatic the impact is.”

The sanctions are designed to force Russian leaders to provide “reliable assurances” they will stop using nerve agents in violation of international law and to submit to on-site inspections by the United Nations. If Russia fails to respond to the newest round of sanctions within 90 days, State Department officials have another set of “more draconian” sanctions they will impose.

Members of Congress critical of the Trump administration’s initial response to the nerve attack in the U.K. expressed support for the action.

“The administration is rightly acting to uphold international bans on the use of chemical weapons,” Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told The Associated Press. “The mandatory sanctions that follow this determination are key to increasing pressure on Russia. Vladimir Putin must know that we will not tolerate his deadly acts, or his ongoing attacks on our democratic process.”

The Kremlin continues to deny any role in the March attack on Skripal.

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