It wasn't that long ago that Kremlin officials could hardly avoid laughing when asked about the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. As long as every NATO member state jealously sought to protect its own business interests, things "weren't all that bad," they gloated.
But since last week, their moods have darkened. For months, the European Union in particular had been reluctant to enact effective penalties against Moscow. Last Wednesday, though, the 28 EU heads of state and government cleared a psychological hurdle: For the first time, they opted go beyond sanctions targeting individual political leaders in Moscow, adding prohibitions against doing business with specific Russian companies that contribute to the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine. A concrete list is to be presented by the end of the month. European development banks have also been banned from providing loans to Russian companies.
The European Union and the United States on Tuesday announced further sanctions against Russia, targeting its energy, banking and defense sectors in the strongest international action yet over Moscow's support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The measures mark the start of a new phase in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War, which worsened dramatically after the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 over rebel-held territory on July 17 by what Western countries say was a Russian-supplied missile.
Winning support from the EU for sanctions was the trickier task, because the European bloc does more than 10 times as much trade with Russia as the United States does and its 28 member states must agree unanimously on any measures.
Russia is the world's biggest exporter of natural gas and second biggest exporter of oil.
Still, some European countries and companies will face real pain. British energy giant BP, the biggest foreign investor in Russia with a near 20 percent stake in Russia's biggest oil company Rosneft, complained its business could be hurt.
According to Reuters the Russian stocks tumble again after new sanctions.
The world stock markets were little changed on Monday, while the U.S. traded mostly flat against a basket of major currencies ahead of key economic reports and events this week.
Investors and traders were hesitant to make bold moves on concerns over new European sanctions against Moscow and ahead of Wednesday´s release of US second-quarter gross domestic product.
Wall Street ended flat as the latest deal news offset losses following soft data on the housing market and services sector.
The market may also be hitting resistance with Dow Jones industrial average sitting just below 17.000 and the S&P 500 near 2.000.