The United States accused Russia on Monday of blocking worldwide inspectors from reaching the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria and said Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground.
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". A fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is expected to head to Douma, the site of the suspected attack. The OPCW previously said that "Syria and Russian Federation were concerned that security on the ground could not be guaranteed" for its team, but Lavrov echoed the Kremlin's prior "fabrication" claims outright.
Inspectors arrived in Syria on Saturday to determine if chemical weapons were used in the deadly attack that has left up to 70 people dead. The U.S. has blamed the Assad government for the alleged attack.
"We are considering additional sanctions on Russian Federation and a decision will be made in the near future", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
On Sunday, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said new sanctions would be announced on Monday by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. "What did take place was the staged thing". The Syrian government and its Russian ally deny involvement in any such incident.
Three sites were hit - the Barzeh complex, which the U.S. says is a centre for development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons, although Syria denies this.
Haley also said the response by the Trump administration was "cumulative", taking into account not only the recent chemical weapons attack in Douma, but also other, smaller, attacks. I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. Konashenkov released statements by medics from Douma's hospital, who said a group of people toting video cameras entered the hospital, shouting that its patients were struck with chemical weapons, dousing them with water and causing panic.
Alongside sanctions expected on Monday, the US has launched strikes against Syria alongside the United Kingdom and France, with more than 100 missiles launched at three targets on Friday in a move Trump tweeted about on Saturday suggesting that the strikes meant it was "mission accomplished" in Syria.
"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site", US Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at a meeting of the OPCW in The Hague on Monday.
The website noted that the top single web page being promoted was a link to a report on Russia's claim that the Skripals were poisoned with a different toxin to the one identified by the independent chemical weapons watchdog last week.
The Western leaders were also facing scrutiny at home over their actions. Moscow blamed the delay on the air strikes, in which the United States, France and Britain targeted what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday will respond to their criticism in a debate in parliament on Monday afternoon.