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Moscow claims US sanctions are a bid to ‘demonise’ Russia

RUSSIA has angrily denounced ‘draconian’ new sanctions imposed by the US after it concluded Moscow was responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (pictured) said the restrictions are a new attempt to ‘demonise Russia’.

She said Moscow would work out retaliatory measures, adding that ‘ultimatums against Russia are useless’. The Russian embassy in Washington said Americans were running a ‘sanctions assembly line’.

The US State department announced the news on Wednesday after it concluded Russia was behind the novichok poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

Two locals, Dawn Sturgess and her partner, Charlie Rowley, were subsequently exposed to the nerve agent after finding it in a discarded bottle. Ms Sturgess died from its effects.

The restrictions — due to take effect from August 22 — are likely to include an export ban on sensitive national security technology and goods. They could be followed by harsher measures if the state department cannot certify Russia is no longer using chemical weapons or provide ‘reliable assurances’ it will not do so. Measures could include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending flights to the US by Aeroflot and cutting off many exports and imports.

Downing Street welcomed the sanctions. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Thank you USA for standing firm with us on this.’ It has been reported that Britain is preparing an extradition request for two Russians suspected of the attack.