Administration officials have studied how sanctions would affect each of the big banks, including Sberbank and VTB, Russia’s two largest banks. Sberbank has about a third of the assets in the country’s banking sector, and VTB has more than 15 percent. Some experts are skeptical that the administration would put those two banks on the S.D.N. list for fear of the consequences for the Russian and global economies. For now, U.S. officials are not ready to cut off all Russian banks from Swift, the important Belgian money transfer system used by more than 11,000 financial institutions worldwide.
The Treasury Department has other sanctions lists that would impose costs while inflicting less widespread suffering. For example, it could put a bank on a list that prevents it from doing any transactions involving dollars. Many international commercial transactions are done in U.S. dollars, the currency that underpins the global economy.
The Treasury Department is also expected to put more Russian officials, businesspeople and companies on the sanctions lists.
By Thursday afternoon in Russia, the nation’s stock market had fallen nearly 40 percent.
The Commerce Department has been making plans to restrict the export of certain American technologies to Russia, a tactic that the Trump administration used to hobble Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company. The controls would damage the supply chain for some Russian sectors. U.S. officials said their targets included the defense industry and the oil and gas industry.
European officials are expected to announce sanctions similar to many of the ones planned by the United States, as they did this week. However, they have been more wary of imposing the harshest sanctions because of the continent’s robust trade with Russia.
Although Mr. Biden has said he will contemplate any possible sanctions, U.S. officials for now do not plan big disruptions to Russia’s energy exports, which are the pillar of the country’s economy. Europe relies on the products, and surging oil prices worldwide would cause greater inflation and more problems for politicians. However, Germany announces this week that it would not certify Nord Stream 2, a new natural gas pipeline that connects Russia and Western Europe. On Wednesday Mr. Biden announced sanctions on a subsidiary of Gazprom, the large Russian energy company, which built the pipeline and had planned to operate it.
Understand Russia’s Attack on UkraineCard 1 of 7
What is at the root of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine within its natural sphere of influence, and it has grown unnerved at Ukraine’s closeness with the West and the prospect that the country might join NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Are these tensions just starting now? Antagonism between the two nations has been simmering since 2014, when the Russian military crossed into Ukrainian territory, after an uprising in Ukraine replaced their Russia-friendly president with a pro-Western government. Then, Russia annexed Crimea and inspired a separatist movement in the east. A cease-fire was negotiated in 2015, but fighting has continued.
How has Ukraine responded? On Feb. 23, Ukraine declared a 30-day state of emergency as cyberattacks knocked out government institutions. Following the beginning of the attacks, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, declared martial law. The foreign minister called the attacks “a full-scale invasion” and called on the world to “stop Putin.”
“We have been frank, we have been candid with the American people that our measures — the measures we have and are prepared to impose on the Russian Federation — certainly won’t be cost-free for the Russian Federation,” Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, said on Wednesday. “But they won’t be entirely cost-free for the rest of the world as well.”