Russia said Thursday new sanctions the United States imposed in connection with the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain are illegal and that Russia had nothing to do with the March incident.
The U.S. State Department announced the sanctions Wednesday, saying Russia broke international law by using a lethal nerve agent against its own nationals. The measures are set to take effect August 22 and generally involve U.S. licenses for exporting sensitive national security goods to Russia, such as electronics.
The Kremlin blasted the move as “unacceptable.” “The restrictions are absolutely unlawful and don’t conform to international law,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
WATCH: US Imposes New Sanctions on Russia for Poisoning Former Russian Spy in Britain
A policeman found Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, slumped on a bench and unconscious in the British city of Salisbury. They were sickened by Novichok — a Soviet-era nerve agent. Both survived but spent weeks in the hospital.
The Russian Embassy in Washington said Wednesday the sanctions are based on “far-fetched accusations” and that Russia supports a transparent investigation of what happened.
“We grew accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence,” the embassy said in a statement.
More sanctions possible
A senior State Department official said Wednesday that Russia could face another round of “more Draconian” sanctions within 90 days unless it provides “reliable assurances” it is no longer using chemical or biological weapons.
The sanctions announced Wednesday are mandatory, triggered by a 1991 law, The Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act.
Britain welcomes US move
The British Foreign Office said it welcomes the U.S. sanctions.
“The string of international response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behavior will not go unchallenged,” it said in a statement.
Russia also denied having anything to do with the June poisoning of a British couple near Salisbury who picked up a bottle that also contained Novichok, which left 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess dead. Her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, survived.
British officials have told reporters they have identified at least two suspects in the Skripal attack. Newspaper reports say the two are in Russia, and Britain is getting ready to ask for their extradition.
VOA’s Arya Hodjat and Jamie Dettmer contributed to this report.