Russia slams “unacceptable” new U.S. sanctions

President Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photograph at the beginning of a one-on-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Mon., July 16, 2018.

MOSCOW — Russia’s government slammed as “unacceptable” on Thursday new U.S. sanctions against Moscow. The U.S. State Department announced the new punitive measures on Wednesday for the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in a nerve agent attack in Britain, saying the U.S. had made the determination this week that Russia used the Novichok nerve agent to poison former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the poisoning. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia “still retains hopes of building constructive relations with Washington,” but that President Vladimir Putin’s regime considers “categorically unacceptable the linking of new restrictions, which we as before consider illegal, to the case in Salisbury.”   “Once again we deny in the strongest terms the accusations about the possible connection of the Russian state to what happened in Salisbury. This is out of the question. Russia did not and does not have, and could not have, any connection to the use of chemical weapons. What’s more, we cannot even say for sure what exactly and how it was used in Britain, since we don’t have any information or any response to our proposal for a joint investigation with Britain into this incident, which concerns us greatly. So linking these events is unacceptable to us, and just as with previous U.S. sanctions we believe are absolutely illegal and against international law,” Peskov told reporters.

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that Congress had been notified and that the new sanctions would go into effect on Aug. 22. They aim to deny Russian state-owned and state-funded enterprises access to any national-security-sensitive goods and technologies originating in the U.S.

The U.S. will also ban Russia from receiving U.S. weapons or military technology and financial assistance. State Department officials told reporters on a call that the economic impact of the sanctions would be in the range of “hundreds of millions of dollars” and would target electronic devices and engines, for example.  There could also be a second round of sanctions that would be “more draconian” than the first round, the officials said. Russia would be subjected to new sanctions unless it agreed not to use chemical or biological weapons against its own citizens, the State Department said.