US eyes more economic aid to Ukraine

United States Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew says the US will provide a $1 bln loan guarantee to Ukraine if it sticks to an IMF-backed reform programme (AFP Photo/THOS ROBINSON) (Getty/AFP/File)

Washington (AFP) - The United States will provide a $1 billion loan guarantee to embattled Ukraine if the government remains on track with an IMF-backed reform program, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

The assistance would be part of the international effort to support Ukraine, whose economy has been ravaged by Russia's annexation of Crimea last year and continued fighting against pro-Russia insurgents in the country's industrial east.

"We are encouraged by the strong reform progress made by the Ukrainian authorities to date, and applaud their strong cooperation with the IMF and their continued commitment to difficult but necessary reforms,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.

"The US support that I am announcing today will be part of a broader international package of support to help ensure the success of Ukraine's reform program and ultimately restore financial stability, unleash economic potential, and allow Ukraine's people to better achieve their economic aspirations."

The $1 billion loan guarantee would be provided in the first half of 2015, and if Ukraine continues to make progress on its reform program and "if conditions warrant," the Obama administration would be willing to provide a further $1 billion loan guarantee in late 2015, the statement said.

A team of the International Monetary Fund is currently in Kiev working with the Ukrainian authorities to assess their reform efforts and develop a new economic support package, the Treasury noted.

The new potential US support follows on the heels of nearly $340 million in US assistance provided to Ukraine in 2014, in addition to a $1 billion sovereign loan guarantee extended last May.

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