Obama Jabs Putin, Calls Russia a ‘Regional Power’
The US government is set to pass a new round of sanctions against Russian officials today. IBTimes UK

The US government is set to pass a new round of sanctions against Russian officials.

The bill, already passed by the US Senate, will go before the House of Representatives at 11am Washington time and is expected to pass with bi-partisan support.

The US is legislating to impose deeper sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials from the worlds of business and politics, with close ties to the Kremlin.

After the bill passed in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the vote as a victory for Ukraine and nations that support international law and democracy.

"This bill is a reality check to him that the United States will not sit idly by while Russia plays the role of schoolyard bully," said the senior Democrat. "Russia's place in the world has transformed. It does not wield the global power that it once did."

Yesterday, the House passed a separate bill that would impose asset freezes and travel bans on a number of senior officials and corporations.

US President Barack Obama said that Washington and Brussels are considering further Russian targets for sanctions, if Moscow were to launch an invasion of eastern Ukraine. While the Kremlin has insisted it has no designs on the country's eastern region, Russian troops have amassed on the border.

Obama admitted that if the West were to impose tougher sanctions, Russia's integration in the world economy would mean any impact would be felt across the globe.

The legislation also includes $1bn in loan guarantees as well as $150m in direct assistance to Ukraine. The news will be a boost to Ukraine's interim government, which is set to receive up to $27bn worth of assistance from the International Monetary Fund over the next two years.

The IMF money will be released subject to strict austerity measures and Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk accepted that the country would have to accept reform to avoid potential default this year. Yatseniuk has already said the country's gas subsidies will be slashed before presidential elections in May, and will be removed in the coming years.