Thursday, 9 August 2018

US sanctions over Novichok hit Russian rouble

The Russian rouble has slumped to its lowest level since November 2016, hours after the US announced new sanctions because of the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.

The dollar-rouble rate reached 66.7 on the Moscow stock exchange. On Tuesday the rate had been 63.4.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in March, though they have now recovered.

Russia denies any role in the attack.

The share values of major Russian firms, including Aeroflot, Rusal and Sberbank, also fell several percentage points in Moscow on Thursday.
The euro also gained against the rouble, which slumped to a rate of 76.8.

Speaking at a briefing later on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow would be preparing a response to "this unfriendly act" by the US. She did not elaborate.

Ms Zakharova also accused the US of trying to "demonise" Russia.

A UK investigation blamed Russia for the Novichok attack. Mr Skripal and his daughter recovered after intensive care in hospital, and their current whereabouts are being kept secret.

The attack prompted the UK and its Western allies to expel many Russian diplomats - and Russia retaliated with its own expulsions.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked the US on Thursday in a tweet. He said nerve agents and other "horrific" weapons must not become a new norm, and "states like Russia that use or condone their use need to know there is a price to pay".

Russia has criticised the new US sanctions as "draconian".

On Wednesday US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it had been determined that Russia "has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals".

BBC      News.

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