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U.S. Senate preparing Ukraine bill with sanctions loan guarantees -aides

Source: Reuters - Mon, 10 Mar 2014 19:25 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) - U.S. senators are preparing a bill to address the crisis in Ukraine that includes sanctions and aid provisions, as well as backing for loan guarantees, Senate aides said on Monday.

However, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were still undecided on whether to include a shift in funding for the International Monetary Fund that has been urged by the Obama administration, the aides said.

A final draft of the Senate legislation was still being prepared, but aides said it would be broader than a measure passed last week by the House of Representatives backing $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.

Staff hammered out over the weekend some aspects of the legislation, including aid for Ukraine in addition to backing the loan guarantees, aides said. They also said they expected some sanctions would be included.

Details of the sanctions were not yet clear. Many lawmakers have called for sanctions against Russians found to be involved in the occupation of Ukraine's Crimea region, and President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week aimed at punishing Russians and Ukrainians responsible.

A spokesman for the Foreign Relations Committee said he could not comment on the legislation because it had not been finalized. The committee has scheduled a business meeting for Tuesday at which it is expected to vote on the measure.

The Obama administration has been pushing Congress for about a year to approve a shift of some $63 billion from an IMF crisis fund to its general accounts in order to maintain Washington's influence at the global lender, and to make good on an international commitment made in 2010.

A Senate Democratic aide said it had not yet been determined whether the Senate Ukraine bill would include the reforms.

The aide noted that the issue had come up when House and Senate appropriations staff were writing an Omnibus spending bill needed to fund the government in February, and in the end had been left out.

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