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The Kremlin also denied all accusations that it was involved in the chemical poisoning attack. This is out of the question. A second, more painful round will kick in three months later unless Russian Federation provides "reliable assurances" that it will not use chemical weapons in the future and agrees to "on-site inspections" by the United Nations - conditions unlikely to be accepted.

Russia's embassy in the United States said Washington's findings against it in the Skripal case were not backed by evidence.

Lawmakers from Russia's ruling party accused US politicians of treating the country like a punching bag in their partisan infighting and in midterm campaigning.

The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to talk about Russian countermeasures because the full scope of the US sanctions was not yet known. They are expected to affect several hundred million dollars in bilateral trade.

There could also be a second round of sanctions that would be "more draconian" than the first round, the officials said.

In Moscow, the ruble shed as much as 5% against the dollar on Thursday and stocks plunged as much as 9%, led by state banks and national carrier PJSC Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, which risk losing access to US markets if the sanctions escalate.

"Mr. Putin's entire track record shows that he doesn't back down under pressure but, rather, goes the other direction", said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a Moscow think tank that receives state funding.

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it will impose new sanctions on Russia over the nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

The new sanctions were to take effect following a 15-day Congressional notification period, she said.

Space Force to Become Sixth Branch of Armed Forces
Currently, there is a 30,000-person, three-star space command that's under the jurisdiction of the Air Force , said ABC News . The Pentagon report included interim steps including creating a unified combatant command, known as the U.S.

Skripal and his daughter were poisoned at their home in Salisbury, England, in March.

Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow on August 9, 2006.

Almost two weeks after the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee asked why the administration was AWOL on Russia's use of a deadly nerve agent on British soil, and less than a week after a group of senators introduced a package of crushing sanctions on the Kremlin, the State Department announced that mandatory sanctions for chemical weapons use will go into effect.

Three months after the Salisbury attack, two other people fell ill at a house in Amesbury, about eight miles from the city.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, later died in hospital.

Police think the novichok was sprayed or smeared on their front doorknob with a perfume bottle.

So far President Donald Trump has been silent on this latest move - which could well derail his attempts to develop a new, warmer relationship with Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin acknowledged on Thursday Putin's office had received the letter, but Peskov suggested the Russian leader was yet to parse it.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption 2014: Protestors clash with authorities in Ukraine after the area of Crimea was annexed by Russia What different types of sanctions are there?