Washington—Representatives Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Michael McCaul, the Committee’s Ranking Member, today urged President Trump to impose sanctions on Russia for using chemical weapons to attack a former Russian agent in Britain. In a letter, the lawmakers underscored that these sanctions are legally required and a critical step to hold Russia accountable.

“Failure by the Administration to respond to Russia’s unabashed aggression is unacceptable and would necessitate that Congress take corrective action,” the members wrote.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. President: 

We are deeply concerned that sanctions have not been imposed on Russia as required by U.S. law stemming from Russia’s use of a chemical weapon against persons living in the United Kingdom.  As you know, the March 2018 attack severely injured former Russian GRU officer Sergei Skripal, his daughter, and a police officer, and tragically killed an innocent British citizen. We urge you to immediately impose the legally-mandated additional sanctions against Russia to hold it responsible for such brazen behavior.

On August 6, 2018, the Secretary of State determined that the March 2018 Russian attack met the standard under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (“the CBW Act”), and in response, the United States imposed the first round of sanctions on Russia under the CBW Act on August 27, 2018.  Those sanctions, while an important first step, largely imposed penalties that the United States had already put into place, such as terminating foreign assistance and arms sales to the Russian government.

The CBW Act requires the Administration to impose a second round of sanctions unless you certify in writing to Congress that Russia is no longer using chemical weapons in violation of international law, has provided reliable assurances that it will not in the future engage in any such activities, and is willing to allow on-site inspections by internationally recognized, impartial observers. On November 6, 2018, the State Department informed Congress that the Administration could not make this certification, and since Russia has obviously taken none of these necessary steps, the Administration is required by law to enact the second round of sanctions. The CBW Act mandated the second round of sanctions to be imposed within three months, yet well over a year has passed since the attack. Therefore, we urge you to take immediate action to hold Russia fully accountable for its blatant use of a chemical weapon in Europe.

We also encourage you to act in concert with our allies and partners to maximize our collective impact.  While the CBW Act was designed to give the Executive Branch appropriate flexibility to craft the sanctions measures applied in each case, failure by the Administration to respond to Russia’s unabashed aggression is unacceptable and would necessitate that Congress take corrective action.


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