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Russia: 'Draconian' U.S. sanctions over spy's poisoning not fact-based

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Officials at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., pictured, responded sternly Thursday to new U.S. sanctions motivated by the March poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

By Susan McFarland, UPI

Russian diplomats issued a stern rebuttal Thursday to the new sanctions issued by the Trump administration over the poisoning of former Moscow spy Sergei Skripal.

The administration announced the sanctions Wednesday, saying the U.S. Department of State had determined Russia violated international law in Skripal's March poisoning.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were both critically ill for weeks after coming into contact with a soviet-era nerve agent in Salisbury, Britain. The United States and several Western governments have concluded Moscow was behind the attack, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

[post_ads]The Skripals both recovered and left the hospital. Two others later became ill, officials believe, from coming into contact with the same poison. One died last month.

Thursday, the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said the new fiscal penalties are misguided, and called them "draconian, not backed by evidence" and "just another output in the U.S. sanctions' assembly line."

"We grew accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence. The American side refused to answer our follow-up questions, claiming that the information is classified," the statement said. "We confirmed that we continue to strongly stand for an open and transparent investigation of the crime committed in Salisbury and for bringing the culprits to justice."

Affected by the new sanctions are sensitive national security-controlled goods. There are some exemptions for space flight activities, government space cooperation and areas covering commercial passenger aviation safety, a senior State Department official told reporters. They are set to take effect Aug. 22.

More sanctions will be imposed after 90 days unless Russia gives "reliable assurances" it will no longer use chemical weapons, and will allow on-site inspections by international observer groups, the official added.

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