EU says could send over 1 billion euros more aid to Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union may disburse more than one billion euros in loans to Ukraine over the coming months and could consider further aid beyond that, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Saturday. In March, the EU offered an 11 billion euro ($14.45 billion) package of loans and grants to Ukraine over the next several years to help get the shattered economy back on its feet. Ukraine has been caught in a geopolitical tug of war between the EU and Russia. Its eastern region is torn by fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces. "More than half a billion euros in loans and 250 million euros in grants have already been mobilized by the European Commission as part of this package," Barroso told reporters after talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Brussels. "Over one billion (euros) more in loans could be released in the coming months and we are ready to consider further financial assistance should additional needs be identified by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) during its next review mission." It was unclear if the funds Barroso was referring to would be over and above the 11 billion euro package set out in March. Barroso also said that trade privileges the European Commission agreed to grant Ukraine in March had led to a 14 percent increase in Ukrainian exports to the 28-nation EU in recent months. The Commission said in March that it would temporarily remove import duties on a wide range of agricultural and other goods in an effort to support the Ukrainian economy. Barroso further said that the EU was ready to host a donors' conference at the end of the year that would also aim to raise funds for the reconstruction of eastern regions of Ukraine worst hit by the fighting. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Mark Heinrich)