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Could Russia sanctions backfire?

Obama-Putin

US President Barack Obama (L) holds a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 summit at the Lough Erne resort near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, on June 17, 2013.

As the Obama Administration considers unilateral sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, business groups are waving red flags.

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have sponsored ads in US newspapers that suggest economic sanctions would really hurt US companies and jobs.

Consider sanctions targeted directly at Russia’s financial sector.

“Any manufacturer that has any office in Russia that uses a Russian bank would no longer be able to transact normal business, meet payroll, pay invoices,” says Linda Dempsey with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Consequences for US companies aside, the real question is: will sanctions work?

“I think US unilateral sanctions send much more of a political message than an economic one,” says Olga Oliker who researches Russia for the RAND Corporation.

She says sanctions would have more impact if they were enacted in concert with Europe.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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