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US Congress approves $1 bn aid for Ukraine, sanctions against Russia

Published time: March 28, 2014 16:07
Edited time: March 28, 2014 19:31
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) leaves after his weekly news conference March 26, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Speaker Boehner discuss various topics including the Ukraine Aid Bill. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Alex Wong)

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) leaves after his weekly news conference March 26, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Speaker Boehner discuss various topics including the Ukraine Aid Bill. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Alex Wong)

The vast majority of the US Senate and House of Representatives have voted to provide Kiev $1 billion in loan guarantees, as well as impose sanctions against some leading Russian officials.

The legislation was adopted by 399-19 in the House of Representatives and a voice vote in the Senate. Two days earlier Senate Democrats agreed to remove IMF reform from the bill, that would have allowed to increase the amount of aid in the Ukraine package.

As part of the package the Senate authorized $50 million to help democracy in Ukraine, governance and civil society assistance, as well as $100 million for enhanced security cooperation by Ukraine with other states in Central and Eastern Europe.

Besides the financial help to Ukraine, the bill will give official status to sanctions against Russia set down by President Obama.

“This bill is a first step toward supporting the Ukrainians and our Central and Eastern European partners, and imposing truly significant costs on Moscow,” the NY Times quotes the House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia.

On Thursday the International Monetary Fund announced a credit provision to Ukraine of up to $18 billion. The arrangement will allow Kiev to receive up to $27 billion from other international lenders within two years.

In order to receive the money Kiev has to carry out a number of economic reforms. As part of this Ukraine's Naftogaz is to raise gas prices by 50 percent from May 2014.