As the White House rolled out fresh sanctions on Russia Thursday -- targeting government hackers, spy agencies, and individuals -- a former Pentagon and White House official familiar with Russia policy said the sanctions "will have negligible impact".
To date, the announced financial sanctions constitute the Trump administration's most significant response to Russian election meddling and other offenses since President Donald Trump assumed office.
“Such narrowly targeted sanctions don’t impact Russia’s economy at all, and that seems to have been the administration’s intent,” said Michael Carpenter, a former Pentagon and White House official who worked on Russia policy. “Russia’s intelligence services don’t exactly have retail bank accounts in the United States, and so this will have a negligible impact on their operations.”
Carpenter noted that for many of the individuals and entities on the list, this is not their first time around with sanctions -- they were previously hit by the Obama administration.
He also said the impact of the sanctions would be diluted by the administration’s “mixed messaging strategy” in which “Cabinet-level officials have ventured forth to condemn Russia’s subversion of democratic institutions, but the president himself continues to refrain from personally saying anything negative” about his counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Russia has shown no sign of giving up its cyber attacks as it combines conventional military methods with initiatives in the cyber realm to work toward regional dominance.
Some officials within the Trump administration have acknowledged that Russia will continue its attempts to interfere in U.S. politics, most notably former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who implied there is no way Russia can be stopped.