Russia says a round of new sanctions imposed on Moscow by the United States over the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK are not based on evidence and are “draconian.”
“We grew accustomed to not hearing any facts or evidence,” said a statement by the Russian Embassy in the US on Thursday, a day after the US imposed a raft of sanctions on Moscow.
Back on March 4, British authorities said that former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been hospitalized after they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city of Salisbury.
Days later, they announced that both victims had been exposed to Novichok, a highly lethal chemical weapon purportedly developed under a secret Soviet program, accusing Moscow of carrying out the attack yet declining the Kremlin’s request for a sample of the chemical agent.
The Kremlin has vehemently and repeatedly rejected any involvement, saying the substance could have originated from the countries studying Novichok, including the UK itself, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.
On Wednesday, however, the US Department of State in a press release announced new sanctions on Russia in response to “the use of a Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal” and his daughter by “Russia” back in March.
Moscow has previously described the claims as a “circus show” staged by the British authorities to demonize Russia.
In its statement, the Russian Embassy described Washington as an “assembly line” of sanctions, a reference to the US practice of imposing round after round of bans on various countries.
“Collective West in the so-called Novichok drama acts as a prosecutor, judge, and hangman at the same time. Why should Russia prove its innocence and not the other way round? Five months later the question remains: has any evidence been presented? The answer is obvious: no,” the statement read.
According to a senior State Department official, the sanctions would cover sensitive national-security controlled goods. The official also said that a second batch of “more draconian” sanctions would be imposed after three months unless Moscow gave “reliable assurances” it would no longer “use chemical weapons” and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations (UN) or other international observer groups.
Elsewhere in the statement, the Russian Embassy in the US said that Moscow had affirmed to the US State Department that it continued to “strongly stand for an open and transparent investigation” into the Salisbury case.