Biden announces over 500 new sanctions for Russia's war in Ukraine and Navalny death President Biden has announced more than 500 new sanctions over Russia's war in Ukraine and the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Biden announces over 500 new sanctions for Russia's war in Ukraine and Navalny death

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

President Biden announced today the U.S. is imposing sanctions on more than 500 targets connected to Russia's war machine and the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The move comes just before the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Now, Western nations have imposed thousands of sanctions on Russia over the past two years to try to hobble its economy and slow its military. NPR international affairs correspondent Jackie Northam explores their impact.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The sanctions slapped on Russia by a coalition of Western nations, including the U.S., the rest of the G7 and Australia, were considered unprecedented in terms of speed and scale. They targeted banks, companies, individuals and froze hundreds of billions of dollars of central bank assets. Despite that, Russia's economy is still standing and its military industrial complex still churning out weapons for the war in Ukraine.

JUSTINE WALKER: But it doesn't mean that there's not been significant disruption.

NORTHAM: Justine Walker is head of global sanctions at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists. She says Russia is losing billions of dollars because of the sanctions.

WALKER: You know, it has had a huge impact on how Russia functions, its economy, everyday life for people but probably not to the extent that, you know, many thought it would.

NORTHAM: Which is surprising considering the Western coalition targeted Russia's biggest moneymaker, oil. The EU and the U.S. banned imports of crude. But it tempered that by allowing other nations to continue to buy it for less than $60 a barrel, enough to keep Russian oil flowing but not make profits. Janis Kluge is an economist and Russia expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. He says it would have been a mistake taking Russian oil off the market.

JANIS KLUGE: The price of oil would get so expensive because Russia is a big player there, that it would have an effect on our own economies and would probably create some sort of a global economic crisis.

NORTHAM: The Biden administration says the Kremlin has lost 40% of its oil revenue. It would be more, but Moscow found ways around it, says Kimberly Donovan, director of the Atlantic Council's Economic Statecraft Initiative, which charts the impact of sanctions.

KIMBERLY DONOVAN: Part of that is Russia's ability to circumvent the price cap by using what's called a shadow fleet, using these really old vessels to move their oil through different markets and as well as hide the origin of the oil.

NORTHAM: Russia has had help in keeping its economy afloat. China and India became Russia's biggest oil customers, albeit paying rock-bottom prices. Other nations helped it evade sanctions and ensure consumer goods and critical technology, such as semiconductors, keep flowing into Russia. Edward Fishman led the State Department's sanction policy after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.

EDWARD FISHMAN: There are countries like China and Turkey and the UAE that are importing these chips from the United States, and then they're selling them onward to Russia. You know, even last year Russia imported more than a billion dollars' worth of advanced chips from the United States and Europe.

NORTHAM: Those semiconductor chips and other technology and equipment are keeping Russia's military industry alive. Kluge says this leads to a sense that the country's flourishing despite the Western sanctions.

KLUGE: Russia's government is spending huge amounts of budgetary funds on the war right now, and this leads to a lot of economic activity and also leads to rising wages in Russia. So it's not surprising then that, for example, Moscow would give you the impression of a booming city right now.

NORTHAM: Edward Fishman, now with Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, says in order for the sanctions to be credible, the U.S. needs to better enforce them.

FISHMAN: The authority is in place. The threat is in place. But we haven't really seen them use it against different banks and companies. I think we could in the coming weeks and months.

NORTHAM: The impact of sanctions are rarely immediate. Successes can seem ad hoc, such as a couple dozen Russian oil tankers sitting idle, falling natural gas prices, Russian airplanes grounded for lack of new parts, banks closing accounts of Russian customers. All signs of an ailing economy, says the Atlantic Council's Donovan.

DONOVAN: I think they're in survival mode. And they're able to, you know, generate revenue through all these alternative means that they've come up with. But in the long run, the outlook is pretty grim.

NORTHAM: Though, like an end to the war itself, that outlook for Russia may not come quickly. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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