President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia related to their poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom, The New York Times reports.
The March 2018 attack left Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a coma and poisoned three other people. A British woman named Dawn Sturgess died in what western intelligence officials described as a botched assassination attempt. Russia has denied any involvement.
Trump’s executive order bars American and international banks from giving loans or other assistance to the Russian government.
Trump slow to act on Russia:
“Trump has been reluctant to take punitive actions against Russia, instead seeking better relations with Moscow despite its well-documented interference in the 2016 election,” The Times reported, but has come under bipartisan criticism for delaying sanctions Congress imposed last year.
Lawmakers grew frustrated after a state department official testified to a Senate committee that the department had “teed up” additional sanctions but had not implemented them.
The sanctions came days after the top Republican and Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee warned in a letter to the White House that “failure by the administration to respond to Russia’s unabashed aggression is unacceptable and would necessitate that Congress take corrective action.”
European officials expected the White House to impose the new round of sanctions last year, according to The Times.
Sanctions come day after Trump-Putin call:
The sanctions came a day after Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone.
The White House said the call was about wildfires in Siberia and “trade between the two countries.” The White House did not say that sanctions were discussed.
"The president of Russia praised this move by the President of the United States as a guarantee that in the future it will be possible to restore full-fledged relations between the two countries," a statement from the Russian government said, adding that the cal took place on the “initiative of the American side.”