EU Slaps First Ever Chemical Weapons Sanctions on Russians, Syrians over Skripal Case, Douma Attack
Four Russians, five Syrians, and a Syrian regime state research institute are targeted by the new restrictions.
For the first time in its history the European Union has imposed sanctions over the use of chemical weapons – targeting four Russians over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury, the UK, and five Syrians and one entity over chemical attacks in Douma in April 2018.
The chemical weapons sanctions against persons from Russia and Syria have been discussed within the EU since the wake of the Salisbury attack where former Russian intelligence operative Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent by two operatives of the Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU, according to the UK authorities.
The other case covered by the EU’s first ever sanctions triggered by the use of chemical weapons is the chemical weapons attack against the city of Douma, at the time controlled by rebels, on part of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which caused at least 40 civilian deaths.
The Council of the EU informs that the sanctions slapped on Monday on a total of nine individuals from Russia and Syria, and one entity, Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) were agreed upon on October 15, 2018.
The new EU sanctions are described as “restrictive measures against the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.”
The chemical weapons sanctions of the European Union consist of travel bans and asset freezes.
“This decision contributes to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons which poses a serious threat to international security,” the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states said, as cited by the Council press service.
The targeted Russian persons include the two GRU officials, publicly named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Bushirov, who are believed to have carried out the Skripal attack in Salisbury on March 4, 2018, as well as the head and deputy head of Russia’s military intelligence.
The first persons listed under the EU’s new chemical weapons sanctions regime, however, are five Syrian regime officials directly responsible for the activities of its Scientific Studies and Research Center.
The SSRC itself was already subjected to EU sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad first introduced back in 2011, after the onset of the Syrian civil war.
They provide for an oil embargo, investment bans, a freeze on Syrian central bank assets in the EU, and export bans on equipment that can be used against civilians.
Russia, which is already targeted by a total of three sets of EU sanctions because of its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and alleged support for the pro-Russian insurgency in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine, has slammed the new restrictions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov described Moscow’s reaction to the new sanctions as “negative”.
He simply reiterated the Kremlin’s known position that the British authorities had presented “no proof” so far that the two GRU operatives had carried out the Skripal attack in Solisbury besides photos from their visit there.
We are not aware of any more substantive and specific proof, which is why we have a negative reaction to such decisions,” Peskov said, as cited by Russia’s state news agency Tass.
(Banner image: Wikipedia)