The United States is discussing with its G-7 partners ways in which they can exert additional pressure on Russia. It is thought that the measures under consideration might be used as a response to an escalation of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. The responses under consideration include price caps and tariffs. The goal would be to drastically decrease the money that the Russia receives from oil sales on the international market. While similar measures have been used before, specifically in the case of Iran, they would likely require “secondary sanctions” to enforce them. Secondary sanctions are steps taken, not against Russia, but against companies or countries that continue to do business with the country. In short, if you do business with Russia, you can’t do business with the US. As a practical matter, these actions are difficult to enforce and politically highly sensitive.
The plan would be to keep Russian oil available in the market, but in such a way as to reduce or eliminate the financial benefits of the sales. The US also acknowledges that the measures it is considering would not address Russian sales of natural gas, which are more difficult to disrupt without incurring serious consequences for consuming countries.
SOURCE: New York Times – US Eyeing Russian Energy Sanctions