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U.S. Sanctions Finally Hit Russia Where It Counts

Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV
Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IVPhotograph by Everett Collection

The U.S. just punched the Russian economy in the gut. Four months after the Obama administration first hit members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle with travel bans and asset freezes over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and Crimea, the U.S. has finally done what so many people always thought it would take to get Russia’s attention: target the country’s state-owned banks, energy companies, and defense firms that make up the core of its resource-driven economy.

In an announcement on Wednesday afternoon, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added some of Russia’s biggest and most important institutions to its sanctions list (PDF). Among them are Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil giant; Gazprombank, the finance arm of Russia’s largest natural gas company; Novatek, a private company that competes with Gazprom; and Vnesheconombank, or VEB, the state economic development bank that facilitates Russian companies exports overseas.