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August 29, 2015

Ukraine Aid Bill Could Move Next Week, May Include Sanctions (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Foreign Relations Committee might take up an aid package for Ukraine before the scheduled St. Patrick’s Day recess, according to committee member Christopher S. Murphy.

“I’m hopeful that our aid package will include sanctions against Russia,” the Connecticut Democrat said. Discussions are under way about the extent of those sanctions and whether they will be in the same bill, he said.

Economic sanctions generally fall primarily in the jurisdiction of the Banking Committee, while Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is already working on at least $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.

The scope of the sanctions against the Russian government and other entities could prove much more controversial.

“I think there is a question now as to whether the sanctions will be limited to individuals that are participating in the illegal occupation of Ukraine or whether the sanctions will be broader, for instance, to include sanctions against the petrochemical industry,” Murphy said before personally advocating a more biting sanctions package.

“I will speak for myself. I think we need a broader set of sanctions beyond just those who have participated in the illegal occupation of Ukraine,” Murphy said. “We have to send a clear message to every facet of Russian society that if you take part in this kind of illegal extraterritorial activity, your entire country will suffer consequences.”

Murphy said that he planned to have conversations today with counterparts in European parliamentary bodies.

“Today Moscow doesn’t believe that the U.S. and Europe together will impose serious sanctions on their government and on their economy,” Murphy said. “That question is outstanding. I’m not sure whether Europe is as serious as we are about imposing sanctions on Russia that may also, in the short run, temporarily harm European economies as well.”

As for a military option, Murphy referred to comments by Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. maintains all options on the table, before conceding military action isn’t likely to win support.

“I have not seen support for military intervention in the Senate, nor do I think I could convince my constituents back home to support a military option in Ukraine,” Murphy said.

Senior administration officials have said on background that they are not preparing for military intervention.

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