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Western Nations Scramble to Stabilize Ukraine

  • Zlatica Hoke

Western countries are joining forces to put together a financial aid package to help pull Ukraine out of its political and economic crisis. The efforts come as Russia suspends its $15 billion loan to the country after the departure of its embattled leader Viktor Yanukovych. The United States is among western countries that have promised urgent aid to Ukraine.

Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Monday that the next $2 billion bailout installment for Ukraine is in "standby status," and that Moscow will decide whether to release it after Ukraine selects a new government.

"It depends on who are, will be, the responsible figures, because it's a very big amount of money. When IMF or some other responsible institution provides support, it asks for the conditions and asks about the partners, so the same will be for us," said Ulyukayev.

Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, said Monday that his country is worse off than its previous government claimed, and that it needs financial aid from the European Union in addition to the Russian loan.

"First of all, to recover form this crisis immediately, then to do all of our best to create the atmosphere which could encourage returning of the international investors, domestic investors. The second: we have to re-launch our negotiations with the IMF, which were stopped by the previous government,” said Sergeyev.

Ukraine's interim leaders say the country needs $35 billion over the next two years to avert default. The international community is concerned that cash-poor Ukraine could disintegrate without urgent assistance. Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague raised the issue Monday in Parliament.

"Ukraine's financial situation is very serious, and without outside assistance may not be sustainable. An economic crisis in Ukraine would be a grave threat to the country's stability and have damaging wider consequences," said Hague.

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said an international donors' conference is being discussed.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States will work with international partners to help stabilize Ukraine's economy.

"This support can complement an IMF program by helping to make reforms easier and by putting Ukraine in a position to invest more in health and education to help develop Ukraine's human capital and strengthen its social safety net. So, we would be working with international partners to complement an IMF program," said Carney.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was in Kyiv Monday to discuss urgent measures to prop up Ukraine's ailing economy. The EU has called for the formation of a new inclusive government and for democratic elections in Ukraine.
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