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How US sanctions against Russia work

Michael Wilner, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

It has also recently prohibited the sale of U.S. accounting and management consultant services to Russia.

Sanctions on individuals

Sanctions against Russian individuals may have the smallest overall impact. But they can be used as a political weapon to prevent some of the most influential Russian oligarchs and politicians from traveling internationally, sending their family members to foreign schools or accessing overseas assets.

For the first time, American and European law enforcement are hunting down Russian assets parked overseas, seizing yachts, real estate and accounts of sanctioned individuals and vowing to use some of the money to help fund Ukraine’s armed resistance.

These sanctions mostly target Russian oligarchs, a class of extremely rich and often corrupt individuals who benefited from the collapse of state-owned enterprises after the fall of the Soviet Union and from a pay-to-play system set up by Russian President Vladimir Putin since he rose to power in 2000.


But these sanctions for the first time have also targeted Putin himself, whose wealth is inextricably tied to state entities and who has hidden billions in a matrix of accounts and assets nominally owned by others, including family members, girlfriends, business associates and confidantes.

The sanctions have also extended to members of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, and more recently executives at Russian banks and firms.

“In theory, it hurts them enough where they beg Putin for mercy,” DiPippo said.


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