Donald Trump sanctions Russia over nerve agent attack on ex-spy
WASHINGTON – Under pressure to confront Russia, President Donald Trump’s administration placed more sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s government over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy living in Britain.
It’s the second round of sanctions over the 2018 attempt to kill former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in the British town of Salisbury.
Citing authority under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, the new sanctions announced late Thursday prohibit a number of loans from American banks to Russia’s government, “except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.”
Trump has said he wants better relations with Russia. Some lawmakers, however, believe he has been over indulgent with the country, especially in light of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
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Earlier this week, the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent Trump a letter urging more sanctions on Russia, citing evidence of government involvement in the attack on Skripal.
“We urge you to immediately impose the legally-mandated additional sanctions against Russia to hold it responsible for such brazen behavior,” said the letter from Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex., the ranking member.
The British government has also protested the attempt to murder Skripal, while Russia has denied wrongdoing.
In March of 2018, someone attacked Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with a military grade nerve agent at a park in Salisbury. Both survived, but three other people in vicinity became ill and one died.
The Trump administration imposed a first round of sanctions in August 2018. They banned certain forms of foreign assistance, including arms sales and security-sensitive goods and technology.
Russia reacted negatively to the latest set of sanctions.
It “only makes the possibility of normalizing Russian-American relations even more hypothetical,” said Frants Klintsevich, a Russian lawmaker quoted by the Associated Press.