All that “collusion” really hasn’t paid off for Russia, which has once again been slapped with more sanctions by the Trump administration, this time for trying to poison a former spy and his daughter. If Russia doesn’t satisfy certain demands over the next few months, even more crippling sanctions will go into effect.
The Trump administration has imposed the sanctions in response to the March 2018 poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. that the administration blames on the Russian government. On Wednesday, the State Department told Congress that an initial tranche of sanctions will be imposed under a 1991 chemical and biological weapons act.
“Following the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “Following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018.”
A second, even more financially damaging round of sanctions will be imposed in 90 days if Russia fails to take certain steps. CNN reports (formatting adjusted):
The first set of sanctions targets certain items the US exports to Russia that could have military uses — so-called dual use technologies. These are sensitive goods that normally would go through a case-by-case review before they are exported. With these sanctions, the exports will be presumptively denied. A senior State Department official said there would be carve-outs however.
The US would then require Russia to assure over the next 90 days that it is no longer using chemical or biological weapons and will not do so in the future. Additionally, the criteria in the law call for Russia to allow on-site inspectors to ensure compliance. The official said that if Russia did not meet the demands, the US “will have to consider whether to impose a second tranche of sanctions as specified by the statute.”
CNN cites a senior State Department official who said the initial sanctions could impact “potentially a very great sweep of the Russian economy,” noting that the Russian firms affected make up some 70% of the Russian economy and employ 40% of its workforce. The second round of sanctions could impact flights by Aeroflot and downgrade diplomatic relations, a former Defense Department official explained.
While the U.K. has cheered the Trump administration’s actions against Russia, Russia isn’t so enthused. In a tweet Wednesday, a Russian U.N. representative issued a snarky response to the Trump administration.
“The theater of absurd continues,” tweeted Dmitry Polyanskiy. “No proofs, no clues, no logic, no presumption of innocense, just highly-liklies. Only one rule: blame everything on Russia, no matter how absurd and fake it is. Let us welcome the United Sanctions of America!”
Trump has repeatedly described his administration as being harder on Russia than any recent administrations, and the numbers are adding up. The new sanctions follow the Trump administration expelling over 60 Russian diplomats for the attack on the former Russian agent. Last August, Trump signed off, though with reluctance, on another round of significant sanctions which Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described as a “fully-fledged trade war” against Russia, and slammed the Trump administration as having “demonstrated complete impotence, in the most humiliating manner, transferring executive powers to Congress.” Apparently “collusion” doesn’t pay.