Russian embassy calls new US sanctions ‘draconian’

Russian embassy calls new US sanctions ‘draconian’
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The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., is pushing back against newly implemented sanctions against Moscow, calling them "draconian" and deflecting blame for the poisoning of an ex-spy that prompted the new penalties.

The embassy said in a statement late Wednesday that Moscow continues to deny involvement in the use of a nerve agent on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this year. The U.S. earlier Wednesday slapped sanctions on Russia for the incident, which took place on British soil in March.

"We grew accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence," the embassy said.

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"The American side refused to answer our follow-up questions, claiming that the information is classified," the embassy continued. "However, we were told that the US has enough intel to conclude that 'Russia is to blame'."

The embassy went on to maintain its innocence in the case, adding that it continues "to strongly stand for an open and transparent investigation of the crime committed in Salisbury and for bringing the culprits to justice."

The State Department said Wednesday that the U.S. determined earlier in the week that the Kremlin “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals,” citing a 1991 law called the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act.

The U.S. had previously joined Britain and other European allies in blaming Moscow for the nerve agent attack on Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. However, Wednesday's sanctions indicate it determined Russia violated the 1991 law.

The sanctions, which will go into effect about Aug. 22, will restrict the licenses granted for exports of national security goods and technologies to Russia.

A second, more punishing round of sanctions could be imposed in 90 days if Russia does not prove it is no longer using chemical weapons.