NH congressional delegation backs aid to Ukraine
WASHINGTON — Members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation on Thursday were among the overwhelming House and Senate majorities voting to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and formalizing sanctions against Russia for its aggression.
The Senate approved the legislation by voice vote at the same time the House was passing a similar version on a 399-19 vote. Lawmakers intended to get a final measure to the White House by the end of Thursday.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Today we sent a strong message of support to the Ukrainian people and a strong signal to Russia that we do not accept their illegal disregard for international norms and agreements.
“I hope we will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to help Ukraine find a peaceful resolution to this crisis, establish a government that is responsive to its people, and secure lasting economic, political and social stability.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte also backed the package, which she said includes $150 million in direct U.S. assistance in addition to the loan guarantees.
According to Ayotte’s office, the legislation also imposes mandatory sanctions, “including visa bans and asset freezes, against individuals who engaged in violence or human rights abuses in Ukraine and activities undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In addition, the legislation targets Russian officials and their associates who are responsible for or involved in corruption in Ukraine and Russia.”
Ayotte said in a statement, “This legislation makes clear that America stands with the Ukrainian people against the aggression of Vladimir Putin. Providing loan guarantees and direct assistance to Ukraine, as well as sanctions on Russia, demonstrates that we stand firmly with the Ukrainian people and that we reject Putin’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea.
“We must work to inflict major economic costs on Russia as soon as possible, otherwise we will only invite more aggression from Putin and other international actors. Congress has taken an important step with this legislation, but I call on the President to act now to impose even tougher sanctions on entire segments of the Russian economy and to strengthen our military posture in eastern Europe.”
Ayotte, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, led a bipartisan congressional delegation mission last week that included a stop in Ukraine. During her visit, Ayotte met with top Ukrainian government and political officials — including Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that on Wednesday she met with U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top military commander, about the situation in Ukraine.
“I voted in favor of H.R.4278, Ukraine Support Act, in the House (Thursday) because we need to both aid Ukraine and sanction Russians who undermine the independence or economic integrity of Ukraine.”
Fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, backing the House bill, said, “Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine are a clear violation of international law and must not be tolerated. The United States must continue to stand with the people of Ukraine, and hold Russia accountable for its illegal and unjustified aggression.”