Moscow, Aug 9 (IANS) Russia on Thursday slammed as "categorically unacceptable" and "illegal", the Trump administration's decision to impose tough new US sanctions on Moscow following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK earlier this year.
During a press call, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it was "too early" at the moment for possible retaliatory sanctions to be discussed and reiterated the claim that Russia was not involved in the poisoning of Skripal in Salisbury, England, Sputnik news agency reported.
The US State Department announced on Wednesday that sanctions would be imposed under a chemical and biological warfare law and would go into effect around August 22. The statement also accused Russia of violating international law.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were hospitalized and treated for a nerve agent attack in March. The woman was discharged from the hospital in April and her father was released in May. The UK and its allies blamed Russia for the attack.
"Once again we totally reject any allegations of possible Russian government involvement over what happened in Salisbury," Peskov said, adding that "Russia did not have and does not have anything to do with the use of chemical weapons".
Later, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that it would lay out counter-measures in order to address the new sanctions. It said that Washington's actions put pressure on the investigators of the Skripal poisoning case.
The first set of sanctions targets certain items which the US exports to Russia that could have military uses -- the so called dual-use technologies. These are sensitive goods that normally would go through a case-by-case review before they are exported. With these sanctions, the exports will be presumptively denied, according to CNN.
A senior State Department official said on Wednesday that there could be exceptions.
The US would then require Russia to assure over the next 90 days that it is no longer using chemical or biological weapons and will not do so in the future. Additionally, the criteria in the law call for Russia to allow on-site inspectors to ensure compliance.
The official said that if Russia did not meet the demands, the US "will have to consider whether to impose a second tranche of sanctions as specified by the statute."
The second package of sanctions may include a decrease in the level of diplomatic relations and a ban on flights by Russia's Aeroflot carrier to the US.
On the possibility of a ban on Aeroflot, Peskov labelled the US administration an "unpredictable participant in international affairs," adding "you can now expect anything".
The UK welcomed the move from the US on Wednesday.
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