US Senate bill seeks sanctions on Russia
US lawmakers will consider legislation that would impose strict sanctions on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine, implement reforms of the International Monetary Fund and provide aid to the new government in Kiev.
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the bill later today. Committee members said they thought it would be passed by the panel, then sent on to the full Senate for a vote.
Among other things, the legislation would impose sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians judged to be involved in violence or human rights violations during anti-government protests in Ukraine that began late last year, as well as against anyone involved in undermining Ukraine's security and stability.
The sanctions would include freezing assets held in the United States, travel bans and denying visas, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Reuters.
The legislation also directs US authorities to help Ukraine's new government investigate acts of corruption and return assets to Kiev. And it includes backing for a $1 billion loan guarantee, in addition to millions of dollars in aid.
The bill also includes reforms of the International Monetary Fund, which were requested by the Obama administration but left out of a Ukraine loan guarantee package passed last week by the House of Representatives.
If approved by the full Senate, the bill would have to pass the House to become law. Even if it passes, the bill is not expected to be finalized until later in March; Congress leaves Washington on Friday for a week-long recess.
The Obama administration has been pushing Congress for a year to approve a shift of $63 billion from an IMF crisis fund to its general accounts to maintain US influence at the lender and make good on a commitment from 2010.
Some Republicans worry about the IMF's lending to richer European nations and possible losses on loans by the fund.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he opposed including the IMF reforms in the bill. "This legislation is supposed to be about assisting Ukraine and punishing Russia," he said in a statement.