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Trump to impose fresh sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

President Donald J. Trump walks from the Oval Office to the South Lawn of the White House Monday, May 20, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Pennsylvania. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 1 that indicates he is imposing a fresh round of sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the March 2018 nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia in Britain.

The State Department determined in August 2018 that Russia violated the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) Act in the Skripal case, and imposed a first round of sanctions targeting foreign aid, the sale of defense and security goods, and U.S. government
loans for exports to Russia.

In his letter to both the speaker of the House of Representatives and president of the Senate, Trump said that his order is “pursuant to section 307…of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.”

The same 1991 law requires the president to impose a second round of sanctions if he cannot determine whether the country in question has stopped using chemical weapons within three months.

Moscow strongly denies it was behind the poisoning, which has added tension to already severely strained ties between Russia and the West.

The Skripal poisoning lead to additional U.S. and European Union sanctions on Moscow and to diplomatic expulsions of Russian and Western officials.

Trump has lagged on putting the restrictive measures into force and has refrained from publicly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both spoke over the phone on July 31 and discussed the widespread forest fires in Russia and “trade between the two countries.”

The president was compelled to act on the sanctions based on a bipartisan letter sent to the White House earlier this week by leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The letter said that “well over a year has passed since the [Skripal] attack,” yet the “CBW Act mandated the second round of sanctions to be imposed within three months…Therefore we urge you to take immediate action to hold Russia accountable for its blatant use of a chemical weapon in Europe.”