- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2019

The bipartisan leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are calling on the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Moscow stemming from the chemical poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain last year. 

In a letter to President Trump, committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, and ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said sanctions on Moscow “are legally required and a critical step to hold Russia accountable.”

Mr. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, were found unconscious March 4, 2018 on a bench in Salisbury, England. Investigators subsequently determined they were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, and authorities from both the U.K. and U.S. have assessed that Russia was likely responsible.

Russia has denied responsibility, and President Vladimir Putin has labeled the claims linking Moscow to the poisoning as “drivel” and “rubbish.”

The State Department last year declared that the incident warranted sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act (CBW) of 1991, and imposed a round of sanctions in August. 

The lawmakers on Monday wrote “those sanctions, while an important first step, largely imposed penalties that the United States had already put into place, such as terminating foreign assistance and arms sales to the Russian government.”

Under the chemical weapons law, the administration is required to impose another round of sanctions on Russia within three months of the first round unless it can be confirmed that the country has stopped deploying chemical weapons and can assure Moscow will not use such weapons in the future. Last November, the State Department said it could not confirm to Congress that Russia met the qualifications to avoid additional sanctions.


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