Kerry calls for U.S. Congress to pass Ukraine aid package

U.S. Secretary of State calls on Congress to urgently pass aid package for Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State calls on Congress to urgently pass aid package for Ukraine

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a direct appeal to U.S. congress to provide Ukraine with much-needed aid on Thursday.

“We've just got to get the aid immediately. We can't be toying around here at a critical moment for Ukraine," Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Kerry was speaking about a $1 billion loan guarantee that the Obama administration has said it would provide to Ukraine, pending congressional approval.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives but has been held up in the Senate because of discussion about whether International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms should be included package.

Washington’s top diplomat said he did not want to become entangled in the partisan politics of the issue but said: “Boy, do we need aid for Ukraine and we need it now.”

Kerry will meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London on Friday.

According to a senior administration official, Kerry voiced the U.S.’s concerns over Crimea’s forthcoming referendum during a phone call with Russia's top diplomat on Thursday. He also “made clear there will be costs if Russia continues to take escalatory steps.”

Speaking earlier in the day on Capitol Hill, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the crisis in Ukraine made clear the need for Washington’s leadership.

“The events of the past week once again underscore the need for America's continued global engagement and leadership,” said Hagel.

The defense chief also said he will meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Washington next week.

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