Russian PM strongly warns US against ramping up sanctions

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March

Russian Federation will "work on developing retaliatory measures", foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists.

The Kremlin earlier Thursday called the latest action by the US State Department "unacceptable".

"It's a significant step, but not an overwhelming one", said Daniel Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S.co-ordinator for sanctions policy until he retired previous year.

"Once again we deny in the strongest terms the accusations about the possible connection of the Russian state to what happened in Salisbury".

"We are being threatened with further escalation of sanctions pressure", she said.

"The United States conscientiously opts for a further aggravation of bilateral relations, which are already practically reduced to zero thanks to its efforts", Zakharova said.

The United States said Wednesday it was imposing new sanctions on Russian Federation over Moscow's involvement in the use of a "lethal" nerve agent in the attempted killing of a former spy in Britain. The Russian government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack.

While it was hard to assess so far in advance, they said it was more likely that only some of its provisions would be included as amendments in another piece of legislation, such as a spending bill Congress must pass before September 30 to prevent a government shutdown. Skripal was a former Russian spy who worked as a double agent for British intelligence.

Earlier this month, a group of senators led by Lindsey Graham introduced a new bill proposing further sanctions against Russia-the latest in what is turning into a string of Russia-sanction legislative efforts-this time focusing on investments in energy projects outside of Russian Federation that Russia's government supports.

The new sanctions, which officials say will take effect on or about August 22, target USA exports of national security goods to Russian Federation.

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Such technologies have often been used in items such as electronic devices and calibration equipment.

There would, however, be exemptions for space flight activities, government space cooperation, and areas covering commercial passenger aviation safety, which would be reviewed on a case by case basis, the official added.

"If those criteria are not met, it is up to Russian Federation to make that decision, a second round of sanctions ... will [have] to be imposed", the official said. There will also be some further restrictions on Russian access to U.S. financial services.

Russian Federation has strongly denied involvement in the poisoning. In a statement, she said the USA action sends a clear message to Russian Federation that its "reckless" behavior will not go unanswered.

The full U.S. Congress will not be back in Washington until September, and congressional aides said they did not expect the measure to pass in its entirety.

Peskov was referring to the nerve-agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

The Skripals survived but one of two people poisoned by the same Novichok agent in a nearby town, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, subsequently died.

Moscow has angrily rejected any involvement in the poisoning, plunging diplomatic relations with London into crisis.

A senior Russian lawmaker denounced the sanctions as "lynch law".

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