White House Says President Obama Will Sign Congress’ Plan to Supply Weapons to Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses an audience of armed forces December 15, 2014 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (Mark Makela/Getty Images North America)
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses an audience of armed forces December 15, 2014 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (Mark Makela/Getty Images North America)

President Barack Obama will sign a bipartisan bill that ratchets up sanctions on Russia by targeting the country’s energy, defense and financial sectors, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing today.

The legislation authorizes the president to provide $350 million over the next three years in military assistance to Ukraine, including defense equipment, services and training aimed at helping the country re-establish its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Pressure had been building around the White House this week to sign the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the panel’s ranking member, during Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to the United States in September.

It was approved by a voice vote in the Senate on Thursday, but was amended by the House to spread out military aid for Ukraine over three years instead of delivering it in fiscal 2015. The Senate gave the measure its final approval late Saturday.

“On behalf of the people’s House, I urge President Obama to sign this bipartisan legislation,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement issued Monday, noting the measure was unanimously approved by both chambers.

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