- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - All three members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation say they support legislation to provide aid to cash-strapped Ukraine and to sanction Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

The House and Senate passed different bills on Thursday, and lawmakers hope to soon send a single bill to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., all voted for the measures.

“This is an important step in countering Russia’s aggression and promoting a free and democratic Ukraine,” Cramer said in a statement.

North Dakota has strong trade relations with Ukraine, and the North Dakota Trade Office maintains a full-time trade representative there. State exports to the former Soviet Republic last year totaled $22 million, making the country the 14th-largest importer of North Dakota goods. Much of the trade is in agricultural equipment.

“North Dakotans have deep connections to the Ukrainian people, and we stand with them as they work to rebuild their economy, hold new elections, and chart their own path forward,” Heitkamp said. “I am deeply troubled by Russia’s decision to intervene.”

Hoeven earlier this month traveled to Ukraine with several other senators.

“Having visited with Ukrainian officials, I witnessed firsthand the need to provide Ukraine with assistance both to deter Russian aggression and to support democracy,” he said. “Our legislation does that by providing them with the loan guarantees they need to help them defend their country and secure its economic survival.”

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