US to impose sanctions on Russia over nerve agent attack

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The US State Department said the sanctions were in response to "the use of a "Novichok" nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate United Kingdom citizen Sergei Skripal" - a former Russian double agent - and his daughter Yulia.

Russian Federation used "chemical or biological weapons" to try to assassinate a former British spy, the US said on Wednesday, adding that new sanctions would be imposed on the country for the attack.

The US is to impose sanctions on Russia after determining that it used nerve agent against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the United Kingdom in March.

'Following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018'.

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russia's GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found slumped unconscious on a bench in Salisbury in March after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to his home's front door.

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Mr Putin, himself a former KGB spy, said earlier this month Mr Skripal would have been dead if he was attacked with a weapons-grade agent.

Pushed to take action by the Republican lawmaker who chairs the House's Foreign Affairs Committee, the Trump administration moved on Wednesday to take delayed action. Royce had previously accused Trump of ignoring the Russian nerve agent attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously denied allegations that Russia was behind the poisonings, saying in March that it was "unthinkable that we would do such a thing". The U.S. said at the time it was the largest expulsion of Russian spies in American history.

There would, however, be exemptions for space flight activities, government space cooperation, and areas covering commercial passenger aviation safety, which would be reviewed on a case by case basis, the official added.

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