The United States plans to announce new targeted sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on U.S. television on April 15 that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would announce the new sanctions on April 16.
“They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical-weapons use,” Haley said.
“I think everyone is going to feel it at this point,” she added. “I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that Moscow had been informed of the looming sanctions.
“I can really confirm that the sanctions are to be imposed on Russia without any link to reality,” she said on Russian television. “If earlier they used to say they were punishing us for Ukraine, now the wording has been changed dramatically. Now they punish us for the mere fact of being in the global arena.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, and France conducted air strikes against Syria on April 14 in response to a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government that killed dozens of people last week.
The Pentagon said the air strikes hit “the heart” of Syria’s chemical-weapons capability.
Russia, a staunch supporter of Assad, has said the air strikes were a violation of international law and the UN Charter and that they had complicated the effort to find a political solution to Syria’s civil war.
U.S. officials have accused Russia of failing in its role as guarantor of a 2013 agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpiles.
Moscow brokered that agreement to forestall U.S. strikes in retaliation for an August 2013 chemical-weapons attack in a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds.
“With the political and diplomatic actions that we’re taking now, we wanted [Syria’s] friends, Iran and Russia, to know that we meant business and that they were going to be feeling the pain from this as well,” Haley said.
With reporting by CBS, dpa, AP, AFP, and Reuters