US hits Russia with sanctions over nerve agent attack in Britain

US hits Russia with sanctions over nerve agent attack in Britain
The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were found critically ill on March 4. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2018

US hits Russia with sanctions over nerve agent attack in Britain

US hits Russia with sanctions over nerve agent attack in Britain
  • Sanctions in response to “the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal”
  • Russia has strongly denied playing a role in the attack

WASHINGTON: The United States said Wednesday it was imposing new sanctions on Russia, as it accused the government in Moscow of using a “lethal” nerve agent in the attempted assassination of a former spy in Britain.
The State Department said the sanctions were in response to “the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal” — who was a double agent — and his daughter Yulia in March.
The action is aimed at punishing President Vladimir Putin’s government for having “used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
The new sanctions, details of which were not immediately released, were to take effect following a 15-day Congressional notification period, she said.
The action follows the US Treasury’s imposition of sanctions in March against 19 Russian citizens and five entities for interfering in the 2016 US election — the toughest steps against Moscow since President Donald Trump took office.
They came after the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to help Trump win the 2016 presidential race.
The new announcement could bolster Trump’s claim that his administration is taking a tough stance on Moscow, even as he denounces special counsel’s Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as a “witch hunt” that ought to be halted immediately.
Trump caught flak from Democrats and Republicans alike for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of Putin last month at their Helsinki summit, when Trump appeared to disavow his own intelligence agencies’ assessment on Moscow’s election interference.
Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, England, on March 4, having been poisoned by Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
They were critically ill, but survived after spending weeks in the hospital.
Russia has strongly denied playing a role in the attack.
On June 30, a British couple were poisoned by Novichok in a nearby town — 44-year-old mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess subsequently died.
London and its allies have accused Moscow of trying to kill the Skripals and says the two cases are likely linked.


LIVE: Donald Trump leaves White House ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania make their way to board Marine One before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. (AFP)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania make their way to board Marine One before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 1 min 38 sec ago

LIVE: Donald Trump leaves White House ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania make their way to board Marine One before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. (AFP)
  • Joe Biden will be sworn in later on Wednesday afternoon
  • Ceremony will take place amid heightened tensions and a massive security operatio

LONDON: The US is braced for one of the highest profile handovers of the presidency in its history. Donald Trump left the White House on Wednesday with First Lady Melania, before attending a military send-off at Joint Base Andrews.

Joe Biden will be sworn in at 5 p.m. GMT (8 p.m. KSA) and take the oath of office alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The ceremony will take place amid heightened tensions and a massive security operation after a deadly riot at the US Capitol earlier this month.

Follow live updates of the inauguration below (all times GMT):

14:00 - Trump said he will be “back in some form” before boarding Air Force One for Florida.

“This has been an incredible four years,” Trump said in brief remarks to staff, supporters and members of his family gathered at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. “We've accomplished so much together, I will always fight for you. We will be back in some form.”

Trump did not address Biden by name but said he wishs the new administration “great luck and great success.”

13:30 - Trump makes his final speech as President of the United States, saying it had been the greatest honor of his life. Watch it below: