US says Russian Federation sanctions to target security-related goods

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     TARGETED Sergei and Yulia Skripal were exposed to Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok

The Russian embassy in the U.S. called the measures "draconian" and Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they were "illegal" and "absolutely unfriendly".

Sanctions will go into effect on August 22 after a mandatory waiting period, the State Department said.

The Trump administration said Wednesday it would impose more sanctions against Russia as punishment for its use of a nerve agent in an attempt in March to assassinate British citizen and ex-Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

With those possible exemptions in mind, the State Department estimated the value of the new sanctions could "reach potentially hundreds of millions of dollars".

The announcement of sanctions caused Russian stock markets to drop dramatically on opening and the ruble reached its lowest point since November 2016.

Zakharova said the United States was "knowingly presenting demands that are unacceptable to us" as conditions for the sanctions to be lifted.

President Trump might be on holiday, but his State Department is not.

The US administration is obliged to act, under legislation, if chemical or biological weapons have been used.

".Such decisions taken by the American side are absolutely unfriendly and can hardly be somehow associated with the constructive - not simple but constructive - atmosphere that there was at the last meeting of the two presidents", the Kremlin spokesman said.

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"On Aug. 8, 2018 our Deputy Chief of Mission was informed in the State Department of new "draconian" sanctions against Russian Federation for far-fetched accusations of using the "Novichok" nerve agent against a United Kingdom citizen", the embassy said in a statement.

"You can impose sanctions against another state because you want to see a change in behaviour of the other state", says Professor Moritz Pieper, a lecturer in worldwide relations at the University of Salford. The shares of Russian state-controlled banks, the national carrier Aeroflot and other companies also tanked.

NBC, citing USA officials, said the second tranche could include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending the state airline Aeroflot's ability to fly to the United States, and cutting off almost all exports and imports.

"We've seen time and time again that the United Kingdom has responded very quickly; normally when the U.S. introduces sanctions on a country or citizens of a country, the United Kingdom is normally pretty closely following that".

But the punitive measures triggered a furious reaction from Moscow.

Under the terms of the sanctions, any attempt by a US company to obtain an export licence to sell anything with a potential national security objective - gas turbine engines, electronics, integrated circuits and testing and calibration equipment - will be automatically denied.

Further sanctions could be more punitive and include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending flights to the U.S. by state airline Aeroflot.

As a result, Russian analysts say that fresh sanctions are unlikely to weaken Putin, at least in the short term.

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