USA justification for sanctions 'far-fetched' - Russian Federation

US imposes new sanctions on Russia over nerve agent poisoning

The United Kingdom blamed Russia for the attack, resulting in the expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from the U.K., USA and other allies.

The action follows the US Treasury's imposition of sanctions in March against 19 Russian citizens and five entities for interfering in the 2016 US election - the toughest steps against Moscow since MR Trump took office.

The share values of major Russian firms, including Aeroflot, Rusal and Sberbank, also fell several percentage points in Moscow on Thursday. "Corporate debt and individuals are a more likely target" in any new round of sanctions against Russian Federation considered by Congress, Shamaila Khan, a director of emerging-market debt at AllianceBernstein, told Bloomberg.

The new sanctions will take effect on or around 22 August, and relate to the exports of sensitive electronic components and other technologies.

In the morning, the Russian ruble sank to the lowest levels since April on the news of the new sanctions before recovering slightly later in the day.

The use of chemical or biological weapons, which is a violation of global law, triggers sanctions under US law.

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A Downing Street spokesman said: 'The UK welcomes this further action by our United States allies.

But initial triumphalism swiftly turned sour as anger over what some US lawmakers saw as an over deferential performance by Trump and his failure to confront Putin over Moscow's alleged meddling in USA politics galvanized a new sanctions push.

The sanctions will take effect on or around August 22 - and come at a time when President Trump has been trying to improve relations between the U.S. and Russian Federation.

In the latest broadside, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it would impose fresh sanctions by the month's end after determining that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain, although Moscow denies having any involvement. A ban on Aeroflot flights to the United States could lead to a ban on US airlines traversing Russian airspace.

"The UK welcomes this further action by our United States allies", said a spokesman for the Foreign Office in a statement.

Under US legislation, the administration is obliged to act once there has been a determination that chemical or biological weapons have been used.

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When asked Thursday about the possibility of a ban on Aeroflot, Peskov labelled the USA administration an "unpredictable participant in worldwide affairs", adding "you can now expect anything". It was determined that they were sickened by Novichok - a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent. His administration has sanctioned a number of Russian officials and oligarchs for human rights abuses and election meddling.

Prices steadied a little on Thursday, with US crude edging down 13 cents to $66.80 per barrel and Brent flat at $72.27.

Earlier Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement explaining the sanctions.

A State Department official Wednesday said the delay in issuing the sanctions did not reflect any hesitation on the part of the Trump administration.

There would be exemptions for space flight activities as well as areas covering commercial passenger aviation safety, the official added.

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