Three months into US-led sanctions designed to crush Russia's economy for its war in Ukraine, Russia has appeared surprisingly resilient.
The ruble has rebounded and is now worth more than before the invasion. The Kremlin's coffers are overflowing from record oil and gas sales. Even McDonald's has reopened in Russia, rebranded under a Siberian billionaire's ownership. Meanwhile, Russia's military continues to hammer away at Ukraine with a steady supply of tanks and artillery.But inside the Treasury Department, teams of sanctions experts view that resilience as a mirage. In exclusive interviews with CNN, top Treasury Department officials say they remain confident the sanctions are working and that beneath the surface, a much more dire story is unfolding within Russia's economy, where they contend real and lasting damage is being inflicted.
Russia is by no means the first country that's been sanctioned by the US. But compared with North Korea, Venezuela or Iran, it is far more integrated into the global economy, which has made this latest round of sanctions all the more destructive.
"I think that's what people are missing -- the fact that Russia has to rip apart 30 years of integration into the global economy," said Elina Ribakova, the deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance.
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