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Russia Wields $160 Billion Stick in Crimea Sanctions Standoff

Vladimir Putin’s control over $160 billion in oil and natural gas exports may be his most potent weapon in Russia’s face-off with Europe and the U.S. over Ukraine.

As Crimea prepares to vote Sunday on whether to return to Russian control, the U.S. and its European allies have few levers to deter Putin’s Ukrainian venture. Threats of visa bans and asset freezes haven’t rattled the Kremlin thus far -- six hours of face-to-face talks between the top U.S. and Russian diplomats ended yesterday without a deal.