- By Kalendra Withana
The United States have determined that Russia did use a nerve agent to poison a former Russian agent and his daughter living in the UK.
In March earlier this year, it was reported that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (pictured above) were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury, a city located in the southern part of the UK.
The pair’s exposure to the agent led them to be hospitalised for several weeks, until they were released later on.
UK authorities have accused Russia of perpetrating the attack, however the Kremlin denied any involvement with the incident.
Two other British nationals also came into contact with the same substance. Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in July after exposure to the Novichok nerve agent at end of June. Her partner, Charles Rowley, was also poisoned but managed to recover.
According to a statement released on Wednesday by the US state department, spokeswoman Heather Nauert has confirmed that Russia "has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law”.
Following this new insight of information, the US are not hesitating to impose sanctions on the country.
These punitive measures, centring around the exports of “sensitive electronic components and other technologies”, are set to commence on or around 22 August.
Supporting the US’ decision is the British Government.
"The strong international response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behaviour will not go unchallenged," a UK foreign office statement said.
This is not the first time that the US is acting on Russia. A series of Russian cyber-attacks on the US in June have led the US to already impose sanctions. As for the Russian companies that were involved in the attack, all are restricted from undergoing any transaction using the US financial system.
What has Russia’s reaction been?
Russia have criticised these new sanctions as being “draconian”, with the Russian embassy in the US labelling US accusations as being “far-fetched”.
Russia had become "accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence", the embassy said.
The US state department has however issued a warning that “more draconian” sanctions will follow within 90 days if Russia fails to guarantee that it will no longer use chemical weapons.