U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Russia have cost the Kremlin an estimated “tens of billions of dollars,” a senior State Department official told Congress on Thursday.
In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh said the administration is preparing a second round of sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its nerve-agent attack in Britain.
“We plan to impose a very severe second round of sanctions,” Singh told the congressional panel.
She said this package will include a “laundry list of items that will penalize the Russian government,” ranging from banking sanctions to prohibitions on procurement of defense articles.
Moscow could avoid these sanctions if it meets a November deadline to allow on-site inspections of facilities linked to the chemical used in the March attempt to kill former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England and provides a “verifiable” assurance that it won’t used banned chemical weapons again.
“They have not done so, so far,” Singh said.
The United States imposed the first wave of sanctions over the Skripal poisoning in August, largely barring U.S. technological exports and foreign assistance, with exceptions for humanitarian aid.
The hearing comes amid criticisms from lawmakers who claim President Donald Trump has not hit the Kremlin hard enough for its destabilizing behavior such as its meddling in democratic elections and involvement in the Syrian civil war.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R., Calif.) lauded the Trump administration for recently sanctioning more than 200 Russian companies, banks, and individuals, but joined bipartisan calls for the White House to do more.
“We cannot expect [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and his corrupt associates to change their behavior in Syria, Ukraine or anywhere else until we prove we will hold them to account,” Royce said in opening testimony.
Trump signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing the automatic imposition of sanctions against foreign governments or individuals who attempt to interfere in U.S. elections.
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