US Senate committee authorizes sanctions against Russia

WASHINGTON, Mar 13 (PNA/ITAR-TASS) –The US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee has passed a bill authorizing sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials deemed by Washington to be guilty of corruption and responsible for violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, including visa bans and the freezing of their US accounts.

The bill condemns Russia’s “unjustified military intervention” in Crimea and approves billion assistance in loan guarantees to the new Kiev authorities that grabbed power on the wave of anti-government protests in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych left Ukraine in February after a coup in his country. He told reporters in southern Russia on Tuesday that he remained the legitimate Ukrainian leader despite “an anti-constitutional seizure of power by armed radicals.” Russia considers Yanukovych the legitimate Ukrainian president.

Earlier, a number of media claimed Russian armed forces reportedly blocked some military facilities in Crimea. However, Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov and top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have denied any unlawful activities by Russian armed forces in the Ukrainian autonomy that will on March 16 hold a referendum on whether to secede and join Russia.

Russia has said the decision of the Crimean parliament to hold the plebiscite is legitimate but the self-proclaimed new Ukrainian authorities and the West have cried foul over the upcoming referendum claiming it would be “illegitimate”. (PNA/Itar-Tass)