The US and its allies have tried to punish Russia with sanctions in the past, but Moscow's efforts are focused on making the country a sanction-proof economy.

The United States has imposed sanctions against Russia after it recognised two rebel-held areas as separate from Ukraine. 

The sanctions announced by President Joe Biden are the “first tranche of sanctions''. He reiterated on Tuesday that the US was prepared to add sanctions if Russia further encroaches into Ukraine's territory.

Sanctions are often designed to hurt a country’s economy, including travel bans and arms embargoes. 

Sanctions imposed on Russia

The European Union has imposed sanctions against Russian elites and their family members as well, administration officials said, effectively kicking them out of the US banking system and freezing their US assets.

Sanctions were also imposed on the Russian VEB and military bank, as well as comprehensive sanctions on Russia's sovereign debt. 

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The sanctions against Russia's sovereign debt means the Russian government would be cut off from Western financing. 

The US said it could target more of Russia's biggest banks with sanctions that would cut them off from the global financial system. 

About 351 members of Russia's parliament's lower house, Duma, are also targeted with sanctions.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced sanctions against five Russian banks and three Russian businessmen. German chancellor Olaf Scholz has halted permission for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany to open.

Australia on Wednesday also joined to impose sanctions on Russian individuals it believes were responsible for the country's actions against Ukraine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a media briefing.

What other sanctions could Russia face?

The West has threatened Russia with more tough sanctions if it invades Ukraine, cutting off Russia’s access to technological exports and its access to the broader international financial system Swift, which is used by thousands of financial institutions worldwide.

The US could also penalize any Western firms that allow a Russian institution to deal in dollars. As most of the country’s oil and gas sales are settled in dollars, this could result in a huge impact on the economy. 

However, the European countries are dependent on Russian gas, which means such sanctions can result in Russia’s oil and gas exports slump. 

Can Russia fight back sanctions?

Russia has managed to endure sanctions in the past. In 2014, Russian troops moved into Crimea, annexing part of Ukraine. This provoked  international sanctions. 

Since Russia’s economy has managed to endure restrictions for the past eight years, it is unlikely that Putin will be swayed by the current round of boycott. 

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Especially since the sanctions don’t include two main measures that could cause financial strain: access to the international banking system and restriction on Russia’s energy exports.

The Russian government’s international reserves were at record levels in the beginning of this year with more than $630bn in foreign exchange and gold.

The country has also reduced its reliance on foreign loans and investments and has been pursuing trade opportunities in non-Western markets, including China. 

Western leaders have made it clear that even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia might be announced if there is further aggression. 

But the West will have to realise that any strict measures against Russia will have to come with inevitable costs and risks for them. 

Source: TRT World