The U.S. sanctioned hundreds of Russian officials, lawmakers, family members and businesses Friday in what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called a "sweeping action,” but in reality the measures will have little practical effect on President Vladimir Putin’s ability to sustain his country’s economy with oil and gas revenue.

That raises fundamental questions about the effectiveness of sanctions, despite how big it looks on paper for the Biden administration to go after Russia’s central banker, Elvira Nabiullina, and Alexander Novak, the deputy prime minister and a key figure in Russia’s energy sector. A raft of sanctions so far haven’t materially affected the war on the ground in Ukraine or dented Putin’s determination to pursue it despite repeated setbacks.

Putin’s brazen annexation of regions in Ukraine — and his threat to use nuclear weapons to defend his land grab — required a response of some kind. For the Biden administration, it came down to the need to send a signal, to communicate to countries that may be inclined to support the Russian government and work with its key financial officials that they could eventually land on the wrong side of U.S. sanctions policy.