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What another round of economic sanctions could entail

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A man removes trash near the remains of a destroyed Russian armored personnel carrier in Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, on Monday. Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

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Pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to escalate economic sanctions against Russia amid reports of war crimes in Ukraine. 

Existing financial and technology sanctions are already doing great damage. Ukraine wants the allies to cut off Russian oil and gas exports and block Russian access to international waterways.  

Russia still earns money exporting oil and gas that aren’t covered by international sanctions. And China and India continue to trade with Russia and provide crucial foreign cash. 

So the U.S. and its allies are now considering imposing “secondary sanctions”, says Cornell economist Eswar Prasad to target not the Indian and Chinese governments directly, but their companies.

“A Chinese company that wants to continue doing business with Russia – it would face some consequences if it wanted to do business with the dollar-dominated financial system, any Western economies,” Prasad said.

The strategy was used against Iran and might well be effective against Russia, said Ariel Cohen at International Market Analysis.

“Secondary sanctions are a long knife, it takes a long time for them to work. But when they work, they may be absolutely devastating for the Russian economy,” he said.

He added the danger is they could provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin to more extreme action as the economic damage escalates.

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