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US announces new sanctions against Russia in response to Skripal attack

The State Department said that Russia had violated international law on chemical weapons.

FILE PICTURE:  Military personnel wearing protective suits remove a police car and other vehicles from a public car park as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent.  (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
FILE PICTURE: Military personnel wearing protective suits remove a police car and other vehicles from a public car park as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

The State Department announced on Wednesday it was imposing fresh sanctions against Russia in retaliation for a government-sanctioned assassination attempt of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the U.K. in March.

The Russian government was deemed to have violated the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 by using the deadly Novichok nerve agent during the poisoning, which left the Skripals critically ill. A month later, two more people were exposed to traces of the agent, leading to one death.

According to NBC News, the biggest impact from the sanctions is expected to come from a ban on licensing exports of sensitive national security goods, like electronic devices and calibration equipment for avionics. This could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars being cut off from future exports to Russia.

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Unless Russia provides “reliable assurances” they won’t use chemical weapons again and agrees to on-site UN inspections — which seems unlikely — a second round of sanctions will take effect in three months. This could include the downgrading of diplomatic relations, cutting off all exports, and even suspending the Russian state airline’s ability to fly to the U.S.

The initial sanctions are expected to take effect later this month.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on the Skripals, the U.K. expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country and took steps to crack down on British properties that had long been used to stash the cash of wealthy Russians. The Trump White House, however, initially declined to support the British conclusion that the Russian government was behind the attack.

“Right now we are standing with our U.K. allies,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked in March.  “We’re going to continue to work with the U.K. and we certainly stand with them throughout this process.”