Medvedev: New US sanctions would be 'economic war'

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March

Under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, the president must determine whether a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of worldwide law or used "lethal biological weapons against its own nationals", the State Department said.

The State Department said the sanctions will take effect around August-22.

European countries and the United States have expelled 100 Russian diplomats since that attack, in the toughest action by Trump against Russia since he came to office.

As the Trump administration punishes Moscow with more sanctions, the U.S.is taking a renewed look at how best to protect Russian defectors, dissidents and other émigrés, as well as how to respond if a military-grade nerve agent were ever deployed on American soil. It was one of a strain of nerve agents known as Novichok that they say is kept under tight control by the Russian authorities.

Heightened concern spurred by the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England is prompting USA national security officials to consider seriously the prospect of a similar attack, current and former officials said.

Yesterday the Russian embassy in Washington accused the USA of running a "sanctions assembly line" and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they were "illegal" and against global law.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the Skripals' poisoning and also the subsequent death of a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, after she was exposed to the agent.

The Kremlin on Thursday lashed out at new US sanctions on Moscow, calling them "absolutely illegal" and assuring investors that the country's financial system is firm despite declines in the ruble and domestic equities. 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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also chimed in, saying the sanctions reflected "possible new unfriendly steps by Washington".

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"The mandatory sanctions that follow this determination are key to increasing pressure on Russian Federation".

"And to this war, we will have to react by economic, political, and, in case of necessity, other methods".

The State Department announced the penalties on Wednesday - a response to the poisoning last March of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, in the British town of Salisbury.

After pressure from Republican members of Congress, the state department has determined Moscow broke worldwide law by using a military grade chemical weapon on the Skripals.

A State Department official denied that the actions undermined President Trump's continued assertions that he would like to improve relations with Russian Federation.

Also in March, Washington ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, and the closure of Russia's consulate general in Seattle.

Sanctions waivers were in place for certain key sectors, including space flight activities and commercial aviation safety, the official said.

The Russian central bank said the rouble's fall to multi-month lows on news of new US sanctions was a "natural reaction" and that it had the necessary tools to prevent any threat to financial stability.

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