House to mark up Russia sanctions resolution Thursday

The House Foreign Affairs panel will mark up a resolution urging sanctions against Russia after its hearing on the situation in Ukraine on Thursday.

The panel's chairman and ranking member, Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) respectively, jointly unveiled the resolution on Wednesday. It 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 Group of 8 and slapping sanctions on the country.

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The resolution “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 statement. "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.

The House is also expected to vote shortly on a financial aid bill allowing Secretary of State John Kerry to go ahead with his promise of $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine's new interim government. The Senate is also preparing sanctions and aid legislation.