Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. weighing more sanctions against Russia: White House

U.S. weighing more sanctions against Russia: White House

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron were both due to face their respective legislatures later in the day over their decision to join the U.S. in launching missiles at suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria, in an attempt to punish the Bashar al-Assad regime. Videos broadcast by Russian and Syrian media last week showed Russian troops visiting the building where the footage was filmed, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that they had found no evidence of a chemical attack there.

A day before a team from the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog was to arrive in Douma, just east of Damascus, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj.

But the British delegation to the OPCW, citing the agency's director general, said Russian Federation and the Syrian regime had not yet allowed inspectors access to the sites in Douma. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the British accusation that Russian Federation was to blame for holding up the inspections was "groundless".

The comments came during a closed-door meeting at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, convened after an April 7 attack in the town of Douma, outside the Syrian capital, in which dozens of people were allegedly killed with poison gas.

Russia's deputy foreign minister said the delay was due to USA airstrikes.

"Not one of the cruise missiles released by the U.S. and its allies entered the zone of responsibility of Russian air defences protecting facilities in Tartus and Hmeimim", the ministry said in a statement carried by the RIA Novosti state news agency, referring to the locations of Russia's naval and air bases.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, on Sunday announced the sanctions and President Donald Trump's commitment to staying involved in the Syria crisis, hours before French President Emmanuel Macron took credit for helping turn around Trump's plan to withdraw U.S. troops.

"The Russian financial market will remain extremely nervous and volatile - with a short-term focus on the scale and rhetoric of the new us sanctions", analysts at Societe Generale SA's Russian unit including Yury Tulinov said in a research note.

"I think everyone is going to feel it at this point", she said on CBS. The Syrian government and its Russian ally deny involvement in any such incident.

Lavrov also denied the use of chemical weapons in Douma and said the event did not take place.

"And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made this clear on Monday as he arrived at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, telling reporters: "I'm afraid the Syrian war will go on in its terrible, miserable way".

The meeting in the Hague is behind closed doors, but Kenneth Ward, expressed concern that the Russian forces there may have tampered with evidence.

The other two were suspected chemical weapons facilities at Him Shinshar near Homs. The Western leaders also faced scrutiny at home over their actions.

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