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U.S. to add more entities in Russia, Belarus to sanctions list

The U.S. Commerce Department will impose further sanctions in the coming days targeting Russia’s defense, aerospace and maritime sectors, adding 120 entities from Russia and Belarus to its entity list, the White House said on Thursday (March 31), as it accused the Russian central bank of artificially propping up the rouble.

That will bring the number of Russian and Belarusian parties added to the list to more than 200 since the invasion of Ukraine began, spokesperson Kate Bedingfield told a news conference.

“We will prevent them from procuring Western technology and evading our severe sanctions. We’re also expanding our sanctions authority to target additional sectors of the Russian economy important to Putin, including aerospace, maritime and the electronic sectors,” said Bedingfield.

“Being added to this list means these entities can no longer get U.S. cutting-edge technology without a license which will in most, if not all of these cases, be denied,” she added.

The White House also said it is seeing an “artificial propping up of the rouble” by the Russian central bank and by the Russian government, according to Bedingfield.

“They are taking artificial measures to keep the rouble propped up,” she said.

On Thursday (March 31), the Russian rouble strengthened for a ninth straight session in Moscow, ending near 83 per dollar, and stocks jumped higher as some curbs on short selling were lifted, with the market focused on the effects of Moscow’s demand that its gas exports be paid for in roubles.

The rouble ended 1.6% stronger against the dollar at 83.20 , its strongest close since Feb. 25, and gained 1.8% to close at 92.50 versus the euro .

The currency lost nearly 40% of its value from the 2021 close as global curbs and sanctions kicked in in retaliation of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine late last month.

Dynamics driving the rouble are to some extent artificial. The currency, which had been free-floating until late February, is now steered by capital controls, a ban on buying cash dollars and euros and other administrative measures.

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded foreign buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles from Friday (April 1) or else have their supplies cut.

(Production: Arlene Eiras)

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