Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized the addition of 33 alleged Russian spies, defense and intelligence officials to the US sanctions list. The blacklisting took place following an executive order from President Trump authorizing Steven Mnuchin, in consultation with Pompeo, to employ all powers granted to the President "by IEEPA and certain CATSAA sections" for implementation of certain sanctions with respect to Russia.
A White House official said the new measures were aimed at "imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities."
Washington has also imposed new sanctions on a Chinese military unit over the purchase of Russian jets and missiles.The Chinese sanctions are to come into effect immediately.
Trump has been criticized by Congress for not using his legal powers to target Russia’s defense industry and gas export pipelines, and with the Mueller probe still continuing, Trump has been eager to show an "unfriendly" side to Putin in advance of the probe's release.
Unlike other occasions, which saw the ruble slide on any incremental sanctions or blacklist news, today the ruble - following the lead from the rest of the EM space - is trading stronger on the day, and is the third best performing currency of the week. Earlier in the day, the First Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank, Ksenia Yudaeva, said that even if FX drop, the central bank will stick to its recent promise of not engaging in FX purchases by the end of the year which is why the Ruble may have more upside to go, even as Russian stocks hit a new all time high.