The US and Europe have yet to fully deploy their bluntest weapon against Vladimir Putin. But if stronger sanctions are deployed against him, the Russian president is vowing to make life very painful for the western oil companies doing business in his country.
The US this week quietly targeted some Russian oil industry bosses in its latest round of sanctions, and Europe has altogether avoided oil in its list of new targets.
The revenue from high-priced oil exports is why Putin can prosecute his shadow war of territorial expansion in Ukraine. Russia’s future production in Siberian shale and Arctic oil will underpin the country—along with the political careers of Putin and his successors—through the 2020s. That future production is also why the western oil majors have all publicly said it is business as usual with Putin.