Russia: Ukraine should seek bailout loan from IMF

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Sunday that Ukraine should seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund to avoid an imminent default, but would have to meet demands for difficult structural reforms.

Russia in December offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout, but so far has provided only $3 billion, freezing further disbursements pending the outcome of the ongoing political crisis.

The loan was promised to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych after he ditched an agreement with the European Union that Moscow opposed. But Yanukovych left Ukraine's capital on Saturday after parliament voted for his removal, and protesters calling for closer ties with the West now have the upper hand in Kiev.

Finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries meeting in Sydney, Australia, discussed the possibility of Ukraine turning once again to the IMF.

"We consider that such a situation would meet the interests of Ukraine, would put the country on the path toward major structural reforms," Russian news agencies quoted Siluanov as saying. "We wish them success in this undertaking and in the rapid stabilization of the political and social situation."

Following the 2008 world economic crisis, the IMF twice offered Ukraine loan packages, but each time it stopped issuing the money after Ukraine refused to fulfill policy requirements, including raising the price Ukrainian customers pay for natural gas and reducing spending on government salaries and pensions.

Siluanov insisted that Ukraine would have had to have introduced reforms under the Russian loan agreement, but Moscow's main condition in the past weeks was for a stable government and one presumably still loyal to Moscow.