Mr. Putin’s decision sometime early last summer appears to have been to turn a familiar Russian surveillance operation of the American political campaign into “active measures,” releasing information that Russia hoped would harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. It succeeded in its immediate goal, disrupting the election and casting doubt on the integrity of the American voting process.
But with the new sanctions, it now also appears to have set back his long-term strategy: to get out from under a sanctions regime that, along with low oil prices, has stunted his country’s economy.
Russia has stumbled along at barely 1 percent growth, and the new sanctions, while hardly draconian, will not ease its pain.
Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Macro-Advisory, which works with international investors on Russia, said the new American sanctions legislation was “much weaker” than originally proposed and raised no new serious hurdles for the Russian economy. But he added that it would further damage perceptions of Russia’s prospects and curb badly needed Western investment by “reminding investors about Russia risk” and by prompting countersanctions by Moscow.