US to impose Russia sanctions while EU warns there can be 'no impunity' over Syrian chemical weapons attack
The US is set to impose fresh sanctions on Russia over its support to Syria’s chemical weapons programme, according to Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley.
Douma, Syria | Photo credit: Press Association
The US diplomat said on Sunday that Washington would target Russian companies involved in helping the Assad regime manufacture the kinds of chemical weapons purportedly used in the recent chemical attack in Douma, the Washington Post reported Haley as saying,
She said, “You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down”.
“And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use. I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.”
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The sanctions are reportedly imminent and will target Russian companies that have helped the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad make and deploy chemical weapons like those that spurred the US and its allies to launch more than 100 missiles at Syria over the weekend.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday said the military strikes on Syria were not about regime change, but about sending a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons.
She said, “These strikes are about deterring the barbaric use of chemical weapons in Syria and beyond”.
"I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley
May called for wider diplomatic efforts on the use of chemical weapons, “including the full range of political and economic levers”, but stopped short of directly calling for sanctions against countries supplying the Assad regime with chemical weapon technologies.
“While this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity. We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere.”
On Monday, EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss the latest developments in Syria. In its agreed conclusions, the ministers said the EU “stands united in its support for the total prohibition and elimination of chemical weapons worldwide”.
However, they made no comment on supporting new sanctions against Russia, instead reaffirming that the use of chemical weapons constituted a breach of international law and warning that, “there can be no impunity and those responsible for such acts must be held accountable”.
"We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere" UK Prime Minister Theresa May
Elsewhere, the Lithuanian foreign ministry said the Baltic state supported actions by the US, UK and France against the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons facilities.
In an official statement the ministry said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria, it said, “crossed all possible red lines” adding, “Those responsible for use of chemical weapons against civil population, including children, must be held accountable.”
“The military response of the international community needed to send a strong signal to Assad's regime and its supporters. It is the only way to prevent the use of chemical weapons in the future.”
The country’s foreign minister, Linas Linkevičius, said, “Only decisive action will make it possible to adjust the regime's policy and send a very clear message to those countries supporting Assad, Russia and Iran.”
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