USA imposes new sanctions on Russian Federation over nerve agent poisoning

US President Donald Trump left and Russian President Vladimir Putin right shake hands in Helsinki Finland

Camera IconUS President Donald Trump left and Russian President Vladimir Putin right shake hands in Helsinki

In a statement Thursday, a Russian official said the U.S.is making "unacceptable demands" of Moscow and urged the cancellation of the sanctions.

Konstantin Koschev, chairman of foreign affairs in the upper house of the Russian parliament, fumed that the U.S.is acting like a "police state" by "threatening and torturing a suspect to get evidence".

The surprise announcement by the US State Department was welcomed by the British government.

Wednesday's announcement comes less than a month after a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that has sparked concern among both Democrats and Republicans over the president's reluctance to hold the Kremlin to account for interfering in USA elections.

The move could cut off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exports to Russian Federation, according to another senior State Department official, who requested anonymity in order to speak about the sanctions.

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". The United States and several Western governments have concluded Moscow was behind the attack, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

The second round would be more punitive and could include the suspension of Aeroflot flights into the United States.

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

Those products include machinery and electrical parts - the trade of which could be worth "potentially hundreds of millions of dollars", according to a senior U.S. state department official.

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Countries can also introduce sanctions in retaliation to other countries' sanctions.

The Kremlin has vehemently denied any involvement in the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, and it did so again in lieu of new sanctions.

The sanctions news saw the value of the Russian rouble plunge to a two-year low before recovering somewhat, amid market fears it is locked in a never-ending sanctions spiral.

Among other measures, it would put sanctions on any transactions related to Russian energy projects and new Russian sovereign debt, as well ban American individuals and businesses from working with Russian oil projects.

The statement anticipated the sanctions would go into effect around August 22 in line with the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

In an early reaction, the Kremlin said the sanctions were illegal and unfriendly, and the US move was at odds with the "constructive atmosphere" of Trump's and Putin's encounter in Helsinki. In fact, a new spike in tensions with Washington could provide a convenient distraction for the Kremlin at a time when Putin faces domestic discontent over the government's effort to raise the retirement age.

Three weeks after Trump's widely panned meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the direction of the relationship remains shrouded in confusion.

But "smart sanctions" are sometimes used - they're much more targeted and created to only punish a small number of people rather than an entire nation.

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