By: Warren Richey, CNN
Published: 01/19/2018 10:16 AM EST
By now, Americans should be familiar with a Russian threat: an economic hit from Washington.
For five years, the U.S. government has slapped sanctions on Russian officials, companies and banks. In response, Moscow is imposing similar penalties on American companies.
Russia’s defense ministry said Thursday it had stopped buying U.S. rifles, warplanes and military helicopters after U.S. officials responded to the Russian missile strikes in Syria with fresh sanctions.
Russia’s approach to sanctions has varied, typically dabbling with fines, raiding bank accounts and slapping travel bans on those it deems key targets.
It’s an approach used by many nations — including the United States — when they clash with foreign governments.
The results are mixed.
Sanctions from the 1990s helped overthrow a Russian leader, President Boris Yeltsin. But U.S. efforts have lost influence with the advent of President Vladimir Putin.
To this day, the United States can’t explain to critics why it has not targeted Assad, Russia’s ally in Syria. Nor can it explain why sanctions did not stop Russian military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
Russia’s use of sanctions has also worked. Its former President Barack Obama hit Russian officials — and the oligarchs who supported them — with sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Crimea.
Russia’s response wasn’t clear.
As sanctions grew more specific, the Kremlin began selling off its large and valuable corporations in a bid to compensate.
Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom took over the bulk of the energy sector, including oil production. Its largest bank, Sberbank, pulled Russian assets out of the United States, and pared back other activities.
In 2016, Russian authorities seized assets from the New York-based Specialty Chemicals Company. It was one of several U.S. companies whose assets were snatched by the government amid U.S. sanctions on Russia.
Russia continues to target American companies and people via travel bans.
The Kremlin’s foreign intelligence services sent U.S. diplomats a new list of sanctions targets late last year. The list includes the U.S. employees of Russian state-owned pharmaceutical company Pharmstandard.