U.S. readying sanctions on Russia over nerve-agent attack in Britain: Bloomberg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has received a package of new sanctions to be imposed on Russia in retaliation for the 2018 nerve-agent attack on a Russian double agent in Britain, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

National flags of Russia and the U.S. fly at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Officials at the U.S. Treasury and State Departments have vetted the sanctions and are awaiting approval from the White House to issue them, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury in March 2018 after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to the front door of Skripal’s home.

Both Skripal and his daughter survived. Russia has denied any involvement in the attack.

Asked about Friday’s report, a Trump administration official noted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a phone call in February that the United States was determined to hold Russia accountable for the attack through sanctions.

A State Department spokeswoman said the department does not preview sanctions actions. The Treasury Department did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

European countries and the United States expelled 100 Russian diplomats after the attack on Skripal, and the United States imposed sanctions on Russia in August after it determined Moscow was responsible for the attack.

Those sanctions covered sensitive national-security-controlled goods, a senior State Department official told reporters, citing the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act.

The State Department said in November it would impose additional sanctions on Russia after Moscow failed to give reasonable assurances it would not use chemical weapons.

Russia’s rouble was down 1 percent on Friday at 65.53 per dollar, after the report raised the possibility that sanctions could touch Russia’s banking sector.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Additional reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru,; Editing by Bernard Orr and Leslie Adler