U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its use of chemical weapons in the 2018 attack on the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, according to two U.S. officials.
The Trump administration imposed a round of sanctions last year, as required by a 1991 law. The same law requires the president to impose a second round of sanctions if he cannot determine that the state in question has stopped using chemical weapons – and U.S. intelligence agencies were unable to make that determination with regard to Russia, which continues to deny responsibility for the attack on the Skripals, POLITICO wrote.
But the president, who has been loath to antagonize Russian President Vladimir Putin, dragged his feet on imposing the second round of sanctions.
Trump was moved to impose the fresh round of sanctions by a bipartisan letter sent to the White House earlier this week.
The State Department and the Treasury Department had the sanctions package ready in late March, Reuters reported, but they have been waiting since then for the president's sign-off.
Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who was simultaneously working for British intelligence services. He and his daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious in March 2018, after having been poisoned with a nerve agent. Both survived the attack.
In response, the U.S. and European countries expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, and the U.S. imposed a first round of sanctions against Russia in August 2018.