Ukraine finance chief: West, IMF won't flag in bailout aid

AP News
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Posted: Feb 19, 2015 12:33 PM
Ukraine finance chief: West, IMF won't flag in bailout aid

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's finance minister rejects the notion that the country's Western bailout lenders might waver in their support in coming years as the bill for rescuing states in the region — including Greece — creeps higher.

Natalie Jaresko says the economic and military stability of her country is of crucial importance to the rest of Europe and the global community. So even though the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are involved in aiding several countries at once, there is no issue of "bailout fatigue."

"We are fighting a war for freedom, fighting a war to defend all of Europe," Jaresko told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "To some extent, the financial package, the support the world is giving us, is in recognition of that fact that we are fighting that war."

Ukraine's government has for a year been fighting with Russia-backed separatists in its eastern region. The conflict has devastated the economy and forced Ukraine to need rescue loans.

The IMF last week announced a $40 billion support package for Ukraine over the next four years. It includes $17.5 billion of IMF funding, money from the European Union, and up to $15 billion in expected debt renegotiation by Ukraine.

The IMF and EU are already supporting Greece with 240 billion euros in loans, and could yet provide more support under talks that are ongoing.

Jaresko, a Chicago-born Ukrainian, dismissed the risk of "bailout fatigue" or that Ukraine might, like Greece, become a long-term financial issue for Europe.

Some say Ukraine may need even more money as it struggles with a war in its east. Jaresko estimated that the war has taken out about a fifth of Ukraine's economy. She noted, however, that some sectors, such as agriculture, were recovering somewhat.

She said "there can be no discussion of exhaustion or fatigue, except on the part of the Ukrainian people."