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US to hit Russia with new sanctions over UK nerve-agent attack

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US to hit Russia with new sanctions over UK nerve-agent attack

The U.S. will impose new sanctions on Russia over claims that the latter used a nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate U.K. citizen and former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this year, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Nauert said that the Trump administration determined Aug. 6 that Russia had "used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals."

The sanctions are expected to take effect on or around Aug. 22 following a 15-day congressional notification period, Nauert said, without providing further details about the sanctions.

A formal determination by the U.S. government that Russia violated international law triggers sanctions outlined in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act. Under the decades-old law, an initial round of sanctions includes a ban on exports of national-security-sensitive goods and technology to Russia.

Another round of sanctions would kick in three months later if Russia fails to meet certain conditions, such as providing "reliable assurances" that it will not use lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals in the future, as well as on-site inspections by the United Nations.

The second round of sanctions could include downgrading or suspending diplomatic relations, a ban of all other goods and technology exported to Russia excluding food and other agricultural commodities and products, and restrictions of imports from Russia including petroleum products.

Skripal, a former spy working for U.K. security agencies, and his daughter Yulia were hospitalized in critical condition after being poisoned by a military-grade chemical weapon in Salisbury, England, on March 4. They were discharged from the hospital in the following months.

Russia has denied involvement in the attack.

The U.S., Canada and 14 European nations including Germany and France expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the incident.