WATCH | How sanctions are implemented and what they entail
In response to cyber-attacks by Russia, the president could implement new sanctions-- though he hasn't indicated that he will.
Already this year the U.S. rolled back sanctions against Burma and is in the process of rolling back sanctions against Cuba. So what does this mean?
Well, in general when a country or individual acts in a way that threatens U.S. security, but it doesn't necessitate the use military force, we try to isolate them economically by use of sanctions.
So when Burma's military took over their government, we sanctioned them.
When Russia invaded Crimea, we sanctioned them.
Sanctions originate from the president and are executed by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Often these sanctions are done with collaboration from the State Department. When the U.S. implements sanctions, we impose fines, freeze assets, and bar countries or individuals from dealing with Americans or American companies.
The president's authority to issue sanctions comes from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Sanctions are used when diplomacy fails but war isn't warranted.
How many sanction programs do we have?
Currently there are more than 20 active sanction programs, though not all of them target countries. Some target terrorists or drug traffickers.
Individuals targeted by sanctions are known as Specially Designated Nationals, or SDNs for short. There are nearly 6,000 SDNs.
Are they effective?
Cuba's been under sanctions since JFK, and they are still a communist country.
In the case of Burma however, the Treasury Department says the sanctions worked. The military has given civilians more control of the government, though some say the military is still too involved in the running of the country.
But when it comes to Russia, they're still in Crimea and they still act aggressively towards the U.S. Despite Russia's aggression, NATO maintains that the sanctions did hurt them economically. So it's a mixed bag. One thing's for certain though, sanctions are much more politically feasible than sending our troops to war.