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US House, Senate pass Ukraine aid, Russia sanctions

A Russian tank rolls outside a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean capital Simferopol, on March 27, 2014The US House and Senate overwhelmingly adopted separate Ukraine aid packages Thursday, including sanctions against Russians, easing a weeks-long impasse on how American lawmakers can help Kiev’s new government. Senators were almost unanimous in a voice vote to pass their legislation which offers $1 billion in loan guarantees pledged to Ukraine by President Barack Obama, and punishes Russian officials and others for their role in Moscow’s Crimea aggression. The House measure, which passed 399-19, was slightly different, and the two would need to be reconciled before being sent to the White House for Obama’s signature. The White House had backed such a broader bill including the IMF reforms, saying the changes would allow more aid to flow more quickly to Ukraine as the new government in Kiev grapples with a teetering economy.

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