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U.S. House passes four bills targeting Russia, Belarus

By Simon Druker
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U.S. House passes four bills targeting Russia, Belarus
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in April, while the House passed four laws Wednesday, all aimed and further isolating Russia and Belarus on the world stage. File Photo courtesy of the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office | License Photo

May 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a quartet of bills Wednesday aimed at further ostracizing Russia and Belarus from the international community.

The Isolate Russian Government Officials Act seeks "to take all necessary steps to exclude Russian government officials, to the maximum extent practicable, from certain international meetings, including World Bank and International Monetary Fund spring and annual meetings."

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It also applies to any Group of 20 proceedings as well as annual Bank for International Settlements meetings.

The bill passed by a vote of 416-2 and will be in effect for five years, "or 30 days after the president reports to Congress that Russia's government has ceased activities to destabilize Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

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The Ukraine Comprehensive Debt Payment Relief Act requires the Treasury Department to make efforts to secure debt relief for Ukraine.

Specifically, it must "order U.S. representatives to international financial institutions to advocate for such institutions to immediately suspend all debt service payments owed by Ukraine to the respective institution."

The act also provides financial assistance to Ukraine and orders the treasury to "pursue comprehensive debt payment relief for Ukraine from other governments and commercial creditor groups."

The Russia and Belarus Financial Sanctions Act also targets finances. It formally requires U.S. financial institutions to ensure to the best of their ability, that "entities and persons owned or controlled by the institution comply with financial sanctions on the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus to the same extent as the institution itself, and for other purposes."

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Finally, the Russia and Belarus SDR Exchange Prohibition Act bars the Treasury Department from any transactions involving the exchange of Special Drawing rights held by either Russia or Belarus.

The SDR is an international reserve asset maintained by the International Monetary Fund based on contributions from IMF member countries. Under normal circumstances, SDRs may be exchanged between member countries and may also be exchanged for currencies.

This week in Washington

Press Secretary Jen Psaki conducts her final briefing as White House press secretary in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on Friday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

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