Updated 10:58 a.m.
A senior lawmaker expected to help steer a Ukrainian aid package through Congress said Tuesday that the Obama administration's pledge of $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees for Ukraine’s new anti-Russian leadership is “welcome news.”
"The time to act is now," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement shortly after Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced plans for the aid package in Kiev. "We must place crippling sanctions on Russian high-ranking officials, state-owned banks and commercial enterprises, and key individuals behind the Russian intervention. Only by forcing Putin to reverse aggression and by supporting Ukraine in this time of national crisis can we hope to restore peace in the region."
Royce and senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced plans late Monday for a loan package and possible sanctions against unnamed Russian officials. The Senate panel is expected to formally debate the package during a markup next week.
Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate panel who visited Ukraine in December to meet with opposition figures, said that a proposal combining aid to Ukraine with sanctions against Russian officials "will enjoy broad Democratic and Republican support on the committee."
Murphy said world powers should be working to assemble a major economic aid package of $15 billion to $20 billion for the new Ukrainian government, with most of the support coming through the International Monetary Fund. Sanctions should be reach across as much of Russian society as possible, he said.
"We need to send a clear message to every facet of Russian society that if you take part in this illegal extraterritorial activity, your entire country will suffer consequences," Murphy said, adding later: "Ultimately, I'm not sure that Russia will pay attention if we simply provide visa sanctions on a handful of government officials that have ordered this march on Ukraine."