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Ruble Tumbles as U.S. Sets Out New Sanctions on Russia

Category: Diplomatic Relations,Politics

The Trump administration said it was acting in compliance with the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which mandates that once the government has determined that a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or even made “substantial preparations” to do so, sanctions must be imposed.

Under the terms, any attempt by an American company to obtain an export license for anything with a potential national security purpose — including gas turbine engines, electronics, integrated circuits and testing and calibration equipment — will be automatically denied.

British officials have declared that Russia was to blame for the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer once imprisoned for selling secrets to the British, and his daughter Yulia. They were exposed to a rare nerve agent belonging to a class of Soviet-developed chemical weapons known as Novichok.

The Skripals survived, but a woman later exposed to the same chemical has since died.

The 1991 legislation calls for tougher sanctions to be imposed within three months, such as the flight restriction, unless Russia passes several tests, including determinations that it is no longer using chemical or biological weapons, that it provides reliable reassurances it will not use them in the future, and that it allows international inspectors to ensure compliance.

It became clear on Thursday that Russia was unlikely to meet these requirements, with officials reiterating denials of any Russian involvement in the poisoning even as the ruble went into a nose-dive.

In Moscow, some officials described the new sanctions in terms of American domestic politics. They were imposed, the Russians said, as part of a struggle in the United States between President Trump and his supporters, who wanted to engage with Russia, and a “deep state” of national security bureaucrats, who were determined to worsen relations.

“This means more pressure on Russia as well as those U.S. politicians who want a rapprochement with Russia, with the ultimate aim of exacerbating the situation,” Aleksei V. Chepa, the deputy chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told the state-controlled broadcaster RT.

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