Thursday, December 11, 2014

US Senate Passes Bill to Arm Ukraine, Impose Sanctions on Russia

According to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the US Senate has passed a bill, aimed at providing lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine and imposing additional sanctions against Russia.
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about immigration reform during a visit to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada November 21, 2014

US Senators have passed legislation to impose harsher sanctions on Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and provide lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has announced.

"The hesitant US response to Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine threatens to escalate this conflict even further. Unanimous support for our bill demonstrates a firm commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty and to making sure [Russian President Vladimir] Putin pays for his assault on freedom and security in Europe," Republican Senator Bob Corker said, as quoted by the Foreign Relations Committee Thursday.

According to the Committee, the bill, which was coauthored by Corker and Senator Robert Menendez, would provide Ukraine with "lethal military and non-military assistance" as well as "energy, defense sector, and civil society assistance" and would expand sanctions against Russia.

The bill, called "Ukraine Freedom Support Act", has yet to be passed by the US House of Representatives.

US President Barack Obama has urged Congress not to pass the legislation. Speaking at the White House Export Council on Thursday, Obama said the legislation would be counterproductive and create divisions with Washington's European allies.

Obama's administration has not yet approved the Ukrainian government's request for arms, voiced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in September during his visit to Washington, DC.

Ukraine has been gripped by an internal conflict since April, when the country's new government, which came to power as a result of a coup in February, launched a military operation against residents of the southeastern regions, who want independence from Ukraine.
The West has accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs and aiding Ukrainian independence supporters, but these allegations have not been supported by any proved factual evidence.

The United States, as well as the European Union and a number of their allies, have introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia in recent months, targeting its banking, energy and defense sectors. The West says the measures are aimed at making Russia change its stance with regard to Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, stressing that sanctions are counterproductive and threaten international stability.

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