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
    +1

    Comment number 147.

    Hitler, Stalin and now Putin, dictators all and not a fag paper between them when it comes to their imperialistic aims, so clashes are inevitable. History proves the rest will make a stand in the end, it's just a matter of courage and time. It just a shame the longer the free world waits the more carnage in the end.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 146.

    Re 135 - "Joined at the hip"?

    I hope not, playing football this afternoon!

    But each time you prove my point made in 126.

    So please keep it coming Comrade.

    Times have moved on over the last decade. You no longer have to use military force to hurt someone like Putin. Hit the rich and powerful in Putin's Russia with sanctions, then they'll stop turning a bling eye to Putin's antics.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 145.

    135.ifinkso

    Well at least two of us have actually bothered to read as many different sources of information as we can to form an opinion. Unlike those who stick exclusively to Putin owned media sources. I stick to my claim. Mr Putin is religiously inspired, resentful of all western people for their part in the fall of the USSR, and is out for revenge.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 144.

    Russia isn't, hasn't and never has invaded the Ukraine.

    This mess was created by has-been dinosaurs in the US and obsessive meddlers in the EU.

    Why should EU members like Greece and Portugal lose out because funds are being diverted to NON EU Ukraine to support their Nazi coup government ?

    Notice how Greece is now conveniently 'out of the red ?'

    Because some accountant has twiddled the figures

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 143.

    We need to start looking at our belief systems.Nothing, since religions started has stopped millions upon millions being killed in pointless wars.

    It is very sad that America, because of greed and empire building thinks that we all want their way of life,with its questionable morality.

    We need to rethink our places in the world and the ultimate aim should be peace and understanding of others

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 142.

    41.
    SinophilinSpain

    Yes well like many others I have always been somewhat dubious about the so called benefits of immigration that we keep being told is so wonderful, to be candid.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 141.

    Why does the Eu and USA not mind their own business? The Ukraine government is illegal , so maybe Russian has a point.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 140.

    The US, EU and NATO badly misjudged the reaction of Russia when they started making overtures to the Ukraine. Putin is a murderous thug but he has outsmarted the west at every turn on this issue. There was no way he would ever stand for NATO on his doorstep. Crimea has gone East Ukraine will be next. After that...........who knows! The Wests' biggest weapon? Stop the shopping trips to Harrods.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 139.

    Now that's posed Putin's Little Hidden Helpers a problem?

    Interesting to note that according to Russia's own figures their economy is on the brink of major Recession. Investment into the country has nose dived and Russians have already taken out $70 billion worth of assets out of the country this year.

    Putin should look to sorting out Russia first, rather than destabilising the Ukraine.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 138.

    The silly politicians from the US EU & NATO made a big deal out of this little fiasco in rather distant eastern europe - now y'all paying the price.

    Perhaps its time to junk all the politicians in the west and reboot - they surely did create the 2007 global recession all on their own - this is more of the same - most politicians have never had a job or made wages - they are welfare recipients

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 137.

    If the US wants to help, fine.
    It is not our problem so why should we borrow more to give it away.
    This applies to all overseas aid, if we don't have it, borrowing will only make our problems even worse than they are at present.
    Charity begins at home.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 136.

    Not our problem.

  • Comment number 135.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 134.

    It seems obvious that despite the good words, the US / NATO / EU have no intention of fronting up to Russia over Ukraine, otherwise we'd already have boots on the ground. This message must be equally obvious to Putin. The US isnt normally as reluctant to flex it's muscle in favour of empty retoric. Only the possibility of having to fire on NATO troops will stop Russsia from annexing east Ukraine

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 133.

    If we think the governments of the world are going to help the Ukraine people???
    Did they help millions starving in third world countries?
    Did they not stand by while Syria was being torn to pieces.
    They all club together to find a Black Box at the bottom of the Ocean, that doesn't bring the passengers back.
    We have an Orchestra of Nero's Playing (Fiddle) while we and our world burns

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 132.

    aaron grant@115
    "real problem"

    We look to individuals, nations, alliances, to 'lay the blame', but ours is the failure. No surprise distrust abroad if at home from anti-democratic propaganda we decline to possess ourselves of rational trust in each other, in equal partnership. The 'weakness' of even a better president lies in the weakness of the people, 'their' press & politics captive to Mammon.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 131.

    Jacob Lew is part of "The Club" of business men, money lenders and the elites who decide what's happening next in the world. If he's after more money, it won't be for the benefit of the Ukranian people.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 130.

    The interim government in Ukraine is not elected, yet there was a referendum in Crimea, who is a legal government and who is not? I don't know any more.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 129.

    @122 That decision was based on the premise of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

    The Soviet Union was in a much better position to remove the Nazis from Poland than the Western Allies were; had the Soviets stopped at Brest and Lvov and left East Germany and Poland to the Western Allies the war would have lasted another year or two, meaning another year or two of operational Nazi death camps.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 128.

    My Ukrainian wife and I have just come back from Ukraine after visiting her family. What we found is that if the EU doesn't do more to help then most Ukrainians will feel that they have no option but to favour rejoining Russia I am sorry to say. Faced with little money, bills they cannot pay and trapped (the only place Ukrainians could travel to without a visa was Russia) and the loss of Crimea.

 

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