US envoy says Ukraine must reform to get aid

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US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland lights a candle in St. Michael Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Nuland arrived in the Ukrainian capital to try to help find a resolution to the protests and political crisis that have gripped the country for more than two months. The U.S. Embassy says Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is to meet President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the opposition during her two visit to Kiev. (AP Photo/ Pool)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A top U.S. diplomat says Washington is willing to consider financial aid to Ukraine as the country struggles through a polarizing political crisis, but only if it undertakes political and economic reforms.

The comment Friday by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland comes after the opposition leaders behind more than two months of protests suggested that Ukraine needs aid akin to the Marshall Plan, the U.S. program that propped up European nations after World War II to encourage political stability.

Ukraine's faltering economy is a key issue in the crisis. Huge protests began when President Viktor Yanukovych shelved an agreement to deepen ties with the 28-nation European Union in favor of getting a $15 billion loan from Russia. Many Ukrainians resent the long shadow Russia has cast over Ukraine.