British finance minister George Osborne said Monday the EU stands ready to provide vital financial aid to Ukraine as the crisis-hit country moved to appoint a pro-Western interim leader after impeaching defiant president Viktor Yanukovych.
“It is very, very early days, early hours, but the people of Ukraine seem to have demonstrated their wish to take their country into the future and to have stronger links with Europe and I don’t think we should be repelling that, we should be embracing that,” Osborne told reporters in Singapore.
“We should be there ready to provide financial assistance through organisations like the IMF and of course a lot of this will take the form of loans and the like,” said Osborne, whose formal title is Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Fears that Ukraine’s debt-laden economy is facing default have sparked panic on markets, with bond yields rising sharply and the hryvnia currency losing a tenth of its value in the span of a few weeks.
Osborne, who is in Singapore for a two-day official visit after attending a G20 meeting in Sydney, said the European Union could provide financial aid alongside the International Monetary Fund.
“It is very early days, we have to have of course a legitimate political authority that we can deal with, but there are very encouraging signs in that regard,” Osborne said.
The ex-Soviet state’s three-month crisis culminated in a dizzying flurry of historic changes over the weekend that saw parliament impeach pro-Russian Yanukovych and call a new presidential poll by May 25.
Ukraine owes nearly $US13 billion in debt payments this year — money it cannot drum up on financial markets because of prohibitively expensive borrowing costs.
Former president Yanukovych in November spurned an historic EU trade deal and secured a $US15 billion pledge from Russia, but Moscow now says the deal is on hold following his ousting.
The British finance minister’s gesture of support came after the US and EU said they stood ready to aid the Ukraine’s battered economy.
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told the G20 meeting in Sydney that Washington now “stands ready to assist Ukraine as it implements reforms”.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will fly to Kiev on Monday for a two-day visit that her office said will aim to work out “measures to stabilise the economic situation” in Ukraine.
Lawmakers on Sunday moved to appoint Oleksandr Turchynov, an ally of pro-west former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as interim president, just a day after he was appointed parliament speaker in place of a Yanukovych loyalist.
Tymoshenko, who was thrown behind bars less than a year after Yanukovych came to power in 2010, has also been released from prison.
Yanukovych fled Kiev and went into hiding amid anger over a week of carnage.
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