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U.S. Senate panel approves Ukraine bill with sanctions, IMF reforms

Source: Reuters - Wed, 12 Mar 2014 20:52 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with vote)

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate panel approved legislation on Wednesday that would impose strict sanctions on Russians involved in Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, provide aid to the new government in Kiev, and implement reforms of the International Monetary Fund.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-3 in favor of the measure, with several committee Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor. The bill next goes to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes there, it would have to be approved in the House of Representatives to become law.

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.

The legislation also directs U.S. 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.

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 U.S. 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. Before passing the full bill, the committee voted down an amendment that would have removed the IMF provision from the bill. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)

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