- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2019

President Trump signed an executive order late Thursday that appears to impose a second round of sanctions on Russia for a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom in 2018.

The order aims to prohibit “any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit to the government of” an unspecified country, and to stop international financing for the unidentified nation. Russia is not named in the order, but it has already faced one round of such sanctions for the use of chemical weapons.

A senior administration official confirmed Friday that the new sanctions target Russia.

“After the first round of sanctions in response to Russia’s use of ‘novichok’ in an assassination attempt against a private citizen in the United Kingdom, Russia did not provide the assurances required under U.S. law so we are imposing the second round of sanctions,” the official said.

Democratic Rep. Eliot L. Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the panel’s ranking Republican, urged Mr. Trump earlier this week to impose sanctions on Russia for using chemical weapons to attack the former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal. They wrote in a letter that the sanctions are legally required and that the U.S. must hold Russia accountable.

“Failure by the administration to respond to Russia’s unabashed aggression is unacceptable and would necessitate that Congress take corrective action,” they wrote. “We are deeply concerned that sanctions have not been imposed on Russia as required by U.S. law stemming from Russia’s uses of a chemical weapon against persons living in the United Kingdom.”

The lawmakers said the sanctions are required under the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act. Moscow was blamed for the attack on the former Russian spy and his daughter using a chemical toxin.

The president has resisted more sanctions on Russia for the attempted assassination. Mr. Trump spoke by phone Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he offered U.S. aid to Moscow in helping to fight forest fires in Siberia. Neither country mentioned the sanctions in accounts of the phone call.

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