US to impose new sanctions on Russia in wake of Syria chemical attack, says UN ambassador Nikki Haley

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Washington will impose new sanctions on Russia in the wake of the apparent chemical weapon attack in Syria, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said.

“Russian sanctions will be coming down,” Ms Haley said during on appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, adding that the new sanctions are expected to be announced by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday.

“Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn’t already, and they will be going directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and chemical weapons use,“ Ms Haley added.

The sanctions are designed to hit Moscow for its support for the Assad’s government. Both the Syrian government and the Kremlin have denied involvement in the attack, which occurred in the Syrian town of Douma is believed to have killed dozens of civilians.

Moscow has suggested that allegations over the attack are false, as well as claiming it was co-ordinated by Britain. The US and France, who took part of retaliatory air strikes early on Saturday over the suspected chemical attack alongside the UK, have both said they have proof Assad was behind the chemical weapon use.

Ms Haley told CBS that the fact that Assad was making the use of chemical weapons “more normal and that Russia was covering this up, all that has got to stop.” 

The UN envoy also said that the administration of President Donald Trump’s response takes into account other attacks using chemical weapons, and military action was only taken because diplomatics efforts have been stymied. 

When asked on Fox News Sunday about “how our relationship with Russia has changed this week,” Haley said that relations are “very strained,” but that the US was still hoping for a better relationship.

“If you look at what Russia is doing, they continue to be involved with all the wrong actors, whether their involvement in Ukraine, whether you look at how they are supporting Venezuela, whether you look in Syria and their way of propping up Assad and working with Iran, that continues to be a problem,” Ms Haley said. She called the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skiripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury – which the UK has blamed on Russia – as  “another issue.”

“Right now they don’t have very good friends and right now the friends that they do have are causing them harm,” Ms Haley said, referring to Russia and the use of sanctions. “I think they’re feeling that.”

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