Trump imposes new sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A pictures shows the former home of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, southern England, on March 4, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia over accusations that Moscow was involved in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain last year.

According to a report published by The New York Times, Trump signed on Thursday an executive order whereby the US Treasury would adopt the second round of punitive measures against Moscow following the poisoning attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

The 66-year-old former Russian double agent and his daughter, 33, were found unconscious outside a restaurant in the southern English city of Salisbury last March. Both were put into a coma following the attack and at least three others were sickened.

In this AFP file photo taken on March 08, 2018, members of the fire brigade in green biohazard encapsulated suits work to re-attach the tent at the scene of a nerve agent attack at The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, southern England.

The Thursday move was prompted after leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a bipartisan letter to the White House earlier this week and urged Trump to take action.

“After the first round of sanctions in response to Russia’s use of novichok in an assassination attempt against a private citizen in the United Kingdom, Russia did not provide the assurances required under US law so we are imposing the second round of sanctions,” a senior US administration official familiar with the matter told The Hill.

The executive order bans loans or other financial or technical assistance to Russia from international financial institutions. It also prohibits any American bank from making loans or providing credit to the Russian government, except those for the purpose of purchasing food or agricultural products.

Washington first imposed sanctions on Russia last August after the State Department said Russia had violated the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) Act in the Skripal case for the deadly use of nerve agent Novichok in the attack.

The bipartisan letter said that "well over a year has passed since the [Skripal] attack," yet the "CBW Act mandated the second round of sanctions to be imposed within three months…Therefore we urge you to take immediate action to hold Russia accountable for its blatant use of a chemical weapon in Europe."

British and American intelligence officials have accused Moscow of involvement in the botched deadly poisoning attempt.

The Kremlin has vehemently rejected any involvement, saying the substance could have originated from the countries studying Novichok, including the UK itself, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

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