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Pompeo discusses new sanctions in call with Russian counterpart

Pompeo discusses new sanctions in call with Russian counterpart
© Anna Moneymaker

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSaudis say journalist killed in ‘fight’ at consulate; 18 detained Pompeo asks Mexico to help tackle migration ‘crisis’ Trump: 'FAKE NEWS' that Pompeo heard tape of Saudi journalist's death MORE spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday about new sanctions levied on Moscow for its poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said Pompeo “reiterated that the United States seeks an improved relationship with Russia and agreed to future dialogue” during the call. 

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it was slapping chemical and biological weapons sanctions on Russia for using a nerve agent on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain on March 4.

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The U.S. joined Britain, France and Germany in condemning the attack and blaming Russia for it earlier this year. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE also expelled 60 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence agents and shuttered a Russian diplomatic facility in Seattle in response to Skripal's poisoning. 

However, until Wednesday, the Trump administration had not made the official determination that Russia violated international law to trigger sanctions under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act. 

The new sanctions have triggered backlash from Moscow, which has denied responsibility for the poisoning.

The Washington Post reported that Lavrov expressed his “categorical disagreement” with the sanctions during his call with Pompeo.

The new sanctions, which officials say will take effect on or about Aug. 22, target U.S. exports of national security goods to Russia.

Another round of sanctions will be triggered under the law if Russia fails to meet a series of criteria, including demonstrating that it is no longer using chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or against its own citizens.

The announcement of new sanctions comes less than a month after Trump’s rocky one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

The president drew widespread criticism for seemingly siding with Putin and casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Seeking to quell the backlash, Trump walked back his statements a day later.

Trump has repeatedly expressed an interest in improving relations with Moscow in order to collaborate on areas of mutual concern, like Syria.

Pompeo and Lavrov also discussed "ongoing challenges in Syria" during Friday's call, according to Nauert.