Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Congressman Royce proposes Russian economic sanctions over Ukraine

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Congress returns to work this week and Ukraine is among the first points of business.

Orange County Republican Ed Royce is taking the lead in the House. As head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Royce has introduced the Ukraine Support Act, a measure that echoes the White House talk about economic sanctions as a way to punish Russia for its actions in Crimea.

The measure would freeze assets and ban visas for those "undermining the democratic processes" in Ukraine. It also encourages investment and provides a "surge" in broadcasts from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, targeting ethnic Russian communities in Eastern Ukraine.

Royce calls the "illegal annexation" of Crimea a "wakeup call" and says the U.S. should increase natural gas exports to Europe immediately to undermine Russia's monopoly. He's particularly concerned about Ukraine's upcoming elections in May and says the U.S. "and our European friends should be bolstering the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine." 

Royce's committee debates the bill on Tuesday. It's similar to a measure the full Senate will vote on this week.

Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees — the latter headed by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein — are expected to get the latest information on Russian military movements near Ukraine's borders.

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