GOP lawmakers says House preparing 'crippling' sanctions

The House Foreign Affairs panel announced Wednesday it was preparing “crippling” sanctions against Russia following its invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The panel's chairman and ranking member, Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), separately unveiled a resolution on Wednesday that denounces Russia's military intervention in Crimea as a “threat to international peace and security” and urges the U.S. and its partners to consider expelling Russia from the G-8 and slapping sanctions on the country.

Royce and Engel said their panel would move the resolution on Thursday.

“We must place crippling sanctions on Russian high-ranking officials, state-owned banks and commercial enterprises, and key individuals behind the Russian intervention,” Royce said in a statement. “Only by forcing Putin to reverse his aggression and by supporting Ukraine in this time of national crisis can we hope to restore peace in the region.”

Royce said Congress was already working on “legislation to impose tough sanctions on Russia to pressure it to end its military aggression and to provide assistance to bolster Ukraine's new government.” He vowed to give the Obama administration the “specific legislation it needs to move forward rapidly.”

Royce's comments come after the House Rules Committee teed up a vote on legislation backing Secretary of State John Kerry's offer of $1 billion in loan guarantees to the cash-strapped Ukrainian government. The Senate is also working on aid and sanctions legislation, with a possible vote by the Senate Foreign Relations panel as early as Tuesday.

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The resolution from Royce and Engel “calls on the Administration to work with our European allies and other countries to impose visa, financial, trade, and other sanctions on senior Russian Federation officials, majority state-owned banks and commercial organizations, and other state agencies, as appropriate.” It declares that Russia should remove all its forces from the Crimean peninsula, except those agreed to under the agreement to use the Sevastopol port as a base for its Black Sea fleet.

"This resolution is the first step toward accomplishing that," Engel said in a statemet. "We must place tough sanctions on Russian high-ranking officials, state-owned banks and commercial enterprises, and key individuals behind the Russian intervention. Only by forcing Vladimir Putin to reverse his aggression and by supporting Ukraine in this time of national crisis can we hope to restore peace in the region.”  

The resolution also urges the establishment of a joint effort with the EU to “provide the Ukrainian government with financial, economic, and technical assistance, including asset recovery, to assist an economic recovery program that includes fundamental reforms.” The resolution says the partners should work together to help Ukraine hold free and fair elections in May and obtain energy independence to break Russia's stranglehold on its economy.

 

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