The Trump administration imposed sanctions on a series of Russian organizations and individuals on Thursday in retaliation for interference in the 2016 presidential election and other “malicious cyberattacks,” its most significant action against Moscow since President Trump took office. The sanctions came as the United States joined with Britain, France and Germany in denouncing Russia for its apparent role in a nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil, calling it a “clear violation” of international law. But the joint statement said nothing about any collective action in response. In his first comment on the poison attack, Mr. Trump agreed that, despite its denials, Russia was likely behind it. “It looks like it,” he told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that he had spoken with Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain.
“We are in deep discussions,” Mr. Trump continued. “A very sad situation. It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it. Something that should never, ever happen. And we’re taking it very seriously, as I think are many others.”
In keeping with his reluctance to blame Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump did not mention the sanctions or election interference. The president has repeatedly dismissed the suggestion that Russia sought to influence the vote in his favor as a “hoax” and “fake news,” even as a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has concluded otherwise and is investigating whether Mr. Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russian agents.