We were doing exactly that. Strong sanctions against the various oligarchs around Putin, the powerful people with whom he is locked in a mutual ring of dependence, made it difficult for them to move money internationally, limiting their travel and financial options, and seriously destabilizing Putin’s hold on power. That was working.
Then fucking Trump came into office, and all that went away. But Putin never stopped his campaign of disinformation within the U.S. He just doubled down, and Trump cheerfully looked the other way. More than anything, Putin feared Clinton’s presidency because it was an existential threat to his continued administration. Four more years of sanctions and the Russian billionaires would start to wonder what Putin was doing for them. Yes, he’s a billionaire in his own right, but if the other oligarchs turn on him, he’s in trouble. That’s the self interest that motivated his support of Trump, on top of his value in throwing wrenches into American governance.
I presume — I hope — that Biden is looking to reinstate this kind of program.