In the 24 hours after Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing two breakaway Ukrainian territories, the European Union, the U.K., and the U.S. bought a combined 3.5 million barrels of Russian oil and refined products, worth more than $350 million at current prices. On top of that, the West probably bought another $250 million worth of Russian natural gas, plus tens of millions dollars of aluminum, coal, nickel, titanium, gold and other commodities. In total, the bill likely topped $700 million.
And that's the way it’s going to be — at least for now. The U.S. and its European allies will continue buying Russian natural resources and Moscow will continue shipping them, despite the biggest political crisis between the former Cold War warriors since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.