A US House of Representatives panel has approved aid to Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions on Russia over its involvement in developments in Crimea.The bill, approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, backs a $1 billion loan guarantee for Kiev and calls for punitive measures against those involved in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea’s integration into Russia. However, the bill leaves out pending International Monetary Fund reforms that were part of the Ukraine aid bill sought by the White House and backed by Senate Democrats.In the wake of Crimea’s secession from Ukraine, the US imposed sanctions on Russian officials. The House bill would expand those sanctions, and enhance security cooperation with Ukraine.”The United States and our allies must take immediate action to strengthen Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence” and target Russian officials involved in the “aggression” in Crimea, said Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum a day earlier, in which nearly 97 percent of the participants voted in favor of the move.On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the documents officially making Crimea part of the Russian territory. He said the move was carried out based on the international law.Speaking in The Hague on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said Washington does not recognize Crimea’s reunion with Russia, adding that the republic remains a part of Ukraine.Obama called on Russia to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine or face the consequences of more sanctions if it moves deeper into the country, warning Putin that that would be “a bad choice”.”We’re not recognizing what is happening in Crimea,” Obama said, adding that the US rejected the “notion that a referendum sloppily organized over the course of two weeks” would “be a valid process”.Obama, who was talking to journalists after a 53-nation nuclear-security summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, said he didn’t think international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia is “a done !!!

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