In these series of articles, we will review US sanctions on Russia. The chronology, what they are about and what are reasons why they appear.
In October 1991, S. Mirzayanov, a chemist who had worked for more than 25 years in the Soviet CW program, alleged that Moscow had developed a series of new and extremely lethal “third generation” nerve agents under a secret program code-named Foliant. His assertions were confirmed by two other scientists, Lev A. Fedorov and Vladimir Uglev. He claimed that Russia was working on developing new binary chemical warfare agents under the designation Novichok. He later defected to the US, where he published its chemical formula in his book “State Secrets”.
Approximately 80 percent of the Russian stockpile in the early 90s were nerve agents. The specific agents in the Russian Federation stockpile were Sarin (GB), Soman (GD) and viscous Soman, Mustard (H), Lewisite (L), Mustard-Lewisite mixture, Phosgene, and Russian VX.
Russia violates the Chemical Weapons Convention
Despite the claims that it has destroyed its stockpiles, a year-long investigation conducted by Bellingcat — in partnership with Russia’s The Insider, Germany’s Der Spiegel, and RFE/RL — concluded that Russian military scientists involved in the original Novichok program continue their work at civilian research institutes while other scientists went on to camouflage their work within the Russian Ministry of Defence as research into organophosphate poisons – group of substances to which Novichok belongs .
The institutes were found to be collaborating with the 33rd Central Experimental Institute for Scientific Research of the Ministry of Defence, which the Bellingcat investigation notes was previously involved in work on Russia’s chemical weapons program.
Furthermore, the investigation found coordination between the two research institutes and a sub-unit of Military Unit 29155, an alleged kill operation within Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU. Unit 29155 is suspected to have been involved in a number of sensitive and dangerous operations, including Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, assassination attempts across Europe — including the hit on former Russian spy turned double agent Sergei Skripal — and the reported payment of bounties to Taliban militants who attacked US forces in Afghanistan.
“Telecoms data that we have retrieved shows that key researchers from the institute are integrated with Russia’s military intelligence, including its black-operations unit (a clandestine sub-unit of GRU’s Unit 29155) to a degree that cannot be explained away by purely defensive considerations”, Bellingcat reports. For example, between November 2017 and March 2018, when Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, Sergey Chepur, the head of the St. Petersburg institute, reportedly contacted members of Unit 29155 by phone at least 65 times. Chepur accused Bellingcat of lying when the investigators contacted him.
The United States has determined that Russia used a chemical weapon in a form of nerve agents in contravention of international law in March 2018 and August 2020 on, respectively, UK citizen and former Russian GRU officer Sergei Skripal and Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Both findings triggered sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.
CBW Act-related sanctions include prohibitions on exporting munitions and commercial goods, as well as the services that are controlled for national security reasons: arms sales, foreign military financing, and other U.S. government credit guarantee programs. The United States has also identified the GRU, the FSB, two GRU officers, six institutes, and seven Russian government officials to be responsible for one or both attacks.
The article was prepared for publication by volunteers of the Res Publica – Civic Resilience Center.
Cover illustration: Emergency service workers working at the scene where Sergei and Yulia Skripal collapsed after being poisoned with novichok / AFP/ Independent photo.
Read more from InformNapalm:
- Liberal Democracy Is Worth a Fight
- UCAS informed Georgia and Kazakhstan on a Russian war criminal
- “A peasant farmer” and “our younger brothers”. How Kremlin presents the situation in Belarus
- Anton Drobovych: on historical unity in the prison of nations
- US Sanctions on Russia: An Overview. Part 4. Human Rights Abuse and Corruption
- US Sanctions on Russia: An Overview. Part 3. Cyber-attacks and influence related sanctions
- US Sanctions on Russia: An Overview. Part 2. Ukraine related sanctions
- US Sanctions on Russia: An Overview. Part 1. How does a foreign policy problem becomes a sanction program in the US?
- Kremlin’s Weaponization of Diplomats
- From Baghdad to Lithuania: how Belarus opened new migration route to EU
InformNapalm Partner in Lithuania: Res Publica – Civic Resilience Center.