Congress Passes Ukraine-Russia Package

A Ukrainian aid and Russian sanctions bill was sent to President Obama for his signature on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Congress sent a Ukrainian aid and Russian sanctions bill to President Obama for his signature on Tuesday in the wake of growing international pressure from the international community against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 378 to 34, following Senate passage last week.

The bill authorizes $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and provides broader authority to Obama to impose sanctions on Russia, including freezing assets and banning travel visas of Russian and Ukrainian officials suspected of leading the invasion into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. It also provides $150 million in aid to Ukraine and other countries to help improve security cooperation and strengthen the rule of law and democracy in the region.

Obama signed an executive order in mid-March authorizing sanctions against 20 Russian government officials and a large Russian bank. The President has also threatened to target key sectors of the Russian economy, including financial services, energy, metals and mining, and defense and engineering.

Retailers with business in Russia and Ukraine have said they are generally operating without interruption, but are keeping a close eye on rising tensions between the West and Russia.

U.S. brands that export to Russia are also concerned that Russia might retaliate with trade sanctions against their products, although so far trade sanctions have not been levied by either side.

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