US urges countries to help Ukraine's economic rescue

Pro-Russian activists warm themselves by a fire outside the Security Service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on 11/04/14 Protests continue in Ukraine, but its economy needs international help, says the US

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US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has urged other countries to contribute more to the economic rescue of Ukraine.

He told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Ukraine's "sizeable financing needs" meant other nations must add to its $1bn (£597m, 720m euros) loan guarantee.

The appeal came as Ukraine's interim prime minister offered to devolve more powers to eastern regions.

Pro-Russian separatists there are defying the government.

Meanwhile, Washington on Friday announced a third round of sanctions against individuals it has linked to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The US Treasury said it had frozen the US-based assets of one former Ukrainian official, a Crimea-based energy firm and six Crimean leaders, including the chairman of the Crimea electoral commission and the mayor of Sevastopol.

Immediate steps 'critical'

Mr Lew says the US is "bolstering the IMF program through a complementary aid package, which includes a $1bn loan guarantee and additional technical assistance," in a statement to the IMF.

"It is critical that the international community - multilateral development banks and bilaterals - take immediate steps to also support the IMF program by providing financing support, given the sizeable financing needs," he adds.

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew speaking in Washington on 11 April 2014 US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has described Russia's annexation of Crimea as "illegal and illegitimate"

The IMF announced a rescue package worth as much as $18bn last month in a bid to aid Ukraine's economy, and this has been bolstered to $27bn with contributions from Europe and the US.

In exchange, the IMF has demanded from Ukraine strict government spending cuts and tax increases.

Ukraine is being squeezed by Russia's decision this month to stop providing Ukraine with subsidised natural gas.

That discount had been agreed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's then President Viktor Yanukovych, in which Russia also said it would buy $15bn-worth of Ukrainian government bonds.

Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk: "We've made an offer... but it's up to them [the separatists] to decide"

Separately on Friday, Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk offered to devolve more powers to the east of the nation and is holding talks with regional leaders in Donetsk, where activists demanding self-rule had occupied a government building.

The separatist protests in Ukraine's eastern cities follow Russia's annexation of Crimea last month - described as the biggest political confrontation in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

The IMF is also asking Ukraine to crack down on corruption and end central bank support for the Ukrainian currency.

Ukraine's new government has said it needs $35bn to pay its bills over the next two years.

Ukraine has not paid off its debt to Russian gas supplier Gazprom despite the passing earlier this week of a deadline for the nation to start reducing its debt. Gazprom says Ukraine owes it $2.2bn.

European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Austria's ORF radio he was working on a plan to help Ukraine pay its gas bills to ensure its debts do not rise.

Gas supplies

On Friday, President Putin moved to assure the EU it would not cut off gas supplies. Brussels said it would stand with the new authorities in Kiev if the Kremlin carries out a threat to turn off the tap to Ukraine.

"I want to say again: We do not intend and do not plan to shut off the gas for Ukraine," Mr Putin said in televised comments at a meeting of his advisory Security Council, the Reuters news agency reported.

A pressure gauge at an underground gas storage facility in the village of Mryn, 120 km (75 miles) north of Kiev taken on 21 May 2013 The EU says it can pump gas back to Ukraine using reverse-flow pipeline technology

Russia has turned off the gas tap to Ukraine before, in 2006 and 2009. As the 2009 row escalated, gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine were suspended for two weeks.

But Russia may be reluctant to do it again as it is dependent on revenue from EU customers.

The EU and US have imposed sanctions on a number of Russian and Ukrainian officials in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The US Treasury says its latest round of sanctions target the US-based assets of one former Ukrainian official, a Crimea-based energy firm and six Crimean leaders, including the chairman of the Crimea electoral commission and the mayor of Sevastopol.

Talks between Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU - the first four-way discussions since the crisis began - are scheduled to take place on 17 April in Geneva.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    The people of Western Ukraine have been sold a dummy.Why the west would take on yet another failed economy whilst it crumbles,is nonsence.Just my opinion this,Ukraine is a sacraficial pawn.Told by the Western world,we will save/help?

    That Auterity IMF loan will break your back and your will perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    GCHQ? @441
    "Don't invoke
    support is so very subjective"

    Is this advice for Ukraine academic (objective treatment to follow), or practical (as from Abe, "you can fool all of the people some of the time, and…but... ")?

    Can 'the people' rule without universal freedom to act in conscience (no penalty for honest error, disgrace only with proof - & in proportion to - laziness & crime)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    Don't think I said God bless democracy before@

    But its always worth saying, if not shouting.

    Many thanks for reading all my comments though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    No complaints or comments removed, but I just had a comment 'pre-moderated' and put in a queue. Why is this, can anyone explain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    439.Alex King
    34 Minutes ago
    I'd like to say good night to all Putin's Little Hidden Helpers, who have commented here today.

    Are you for real? You have the right profile for a hidden helper if anyone has. Just over 50 comments from the last 300 comments belong to YOU, and you keep repeating the same line all day long, seriously!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    I think the EU's role should be humanitarian and no more. If Russia's wants to bully Ukraine by reducing oil supply, then EU should step in and provide some power, food and clothing, but military escalation will help no one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    439. Alex King - "...God bless Democracy...."

    Yes, but what you mean is not the Yanukovich type of democracy, that type of democracy you want hounded out of office by a murderous mob, oh, and not the Crimean type either that came up with the wrong answer.

    Don't climb on a pedestal and invoke 'democracy' when your support is so very subjective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    Aquiles @438
    "Why we have
    to sacrifice?"

    Your voice is authentic, but the 'help' you and Ukraine received sadly was without authority, no authority anywhere democratically valid - as Putin can see only too clearly - and so no reliable back-up for any 'secret funding' of what back-home is no more than speculative mischief, agents along with contacts equally deceived. Putin's lesson comes later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    I'd like to say good night to all Putin's Little Hidden Helpers, who have commented here today.

    As always its a pleasure debating direct with Putin's Russia again and I look forward to hopefully doing it all over the next time the BBC has an article on the Ukraine.

    God bless Democracy.

    God bless the Ukraine and all its people and long may it stay a sovereign country.

    See 126 comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Who help to install this new government in Ukraine, certainly, has the means to help it to stand. Why we have to sacrífice?

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    GCHQ approved? @433
    "a lucid point"
    For a receptive ear?
    Abraham Lincoln not clear enough?
    Need suggested to come out from under that bridge?

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Yes it must be hard for you 434.

    You could always try telling Putin to stop all the "urging"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    Time for Ukraine to have a referendum on who they want to go with and with both the west and Russia accepting the outcome.

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    It's my country doing the urging, yet I can't support this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    @431 - Just say 'no' dude. Take a breath & try to make a lucid point.

    429. thrill_vermilion - "I hardly think a few pro-Russian supporters count as "the people of Ukraine" - do you?"

    I don't know, does Tymoshenko? Does Klitschko? The last elected president was Yanukovich, but of course he can't 'speak for the 'people of Ukraine' 'cos he said the wrong (pro-Russian) things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    thrill_vermilion @ 429
    "I hardly think a few pro-Russian supporters count as "the people of Ukraine" - do you?"

    No. But if you were the mayor of Kramatorsk what would you say to them?


    Who overthrew the Ukrainian government and installed a neo-nazi regime in Kiev?

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    Not Ukraine?
    'Standing up for democracy' can stretch to any insistence on 'rights': libertarian right of the people 'naturally' to free-ride; frank dictator claim to stand for true interests of all, even human sacrifice an honour; more than one UK PM ruling for people like 'us'. Lincoln's democracy (as I would not be as slave, so I would not be a master) points to agreed equal partnership

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    America engineered this and may similar crisis, they should pay for the problems THEY have caused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    @ 427.qqpp

    "who should we be listening to, the people of Ukraine or the Kiev government?"

    I hardly think a few pro-Russian supporters count as "the people of Ukraine" - do you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    Asif Smith
    33 Minutes ago

    Not so. Yanukovich did a u-turn on a EU deal that had been negotiated for a considerable length of time and was close to being finalised and went for a $15 Bio. deal with Russia instead. THAT's what started the unrest.


    Yes, he chose Russian money over EU money which is what i said and as President he has every right to do.


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