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Russia Considers Retaliation For 'Categorically Unacceptable' New U.S. Sanctions

Investigators in green bio-hazard suits examine the site where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned in Salisbury, England.

Russia says it is preparing "countermeasures" to what it calls "categorically unacceptable" new sanctions being imposed by the United States over Moscow's alleged poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in England with a military nerve agent.

"Russia has repeatedly warned that a conversation from a position of strength in the language of ultimatums is useless and has no prospects," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a Moscow news briefing on August 9.

The comments come the day after the U.S. State Department announced that Washington will impose new sanctions on Russia aimed at punishing Moscow for the March poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the town of Salisbury, England.

"We consider categorically unacceptable the linking of new restrictions, which we as before consider illegal, to the case in Salisbury," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on August 9.

A senior U.S. State Department official said the new sanctions targeted export licenses of sensitive U.S. technologies and industrial equipment, such as electronics, calibration equipment, and gas-turbine engines. The official said requests for licenses to export such goods to Russia would now be "presumptively denied."

The official said the first tranche of sanctions, being imposed under a 1991 U.S. law concerning chemical and biological weapons, would take effect on August 22.

'Draconian' Sanctions

The announcement followed earlier moves by Washington to expel dozens of Russian diplomats, in coordination with Britain and other European allies, in response to the poisoning, which authorities said used a highly toxic agent known as Novichok.

Russia's delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on August 9 accused the West of acting as prosecutor, judge, and executioner.

"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?" the delegation wrote on its official Twitter account.

The Russian Embassy in Washington in a statement late on August 8 called the allegations that Russia poisoned the Skripals with Novichok "far-fetched," and said neither Washington nor the British government had produced evidence supporting those allegations.

"This whole accusatory pyramid is being built in the absence of any legal substantiation, but they're still telling us about international law and respect for legal obligations," Zakharova told the Moscow briefing.

Washington has claimed that the evidence is "classified," the statement said, but it has told the embassy that it has "enough intel to conclude that Russia is to blame" for the incident, which occurred in Salisbury, England in March.

If Moscow does not comply, a second round of sanctions could further downgrade diplomatic relations with Russia.

Russia will also be given 90 days to comply with other demands, including allowing international inspectors into the country to ensure that no chemical or biological weapons exist there.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and Interfax