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Ukraine crisis: EU to outline aid package worth more than $1.7b

Published on Mar 4, 2014 10:26 PM
 
Members of Vienna's Ukrainian community protest against Russian troops in Ukraine, outside the U.S. embassy in Vienna on Mar 4, 2014. The European Commission will offer an aid package reportedly worth more than one billion euros (S$1.75 billion) for cash-strapped Ukraine on Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014, a day before EU leaders gather for a crisis summit. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Commission will offer an aid package reportedly worth more than one billion euros (S$1.75 billion) for cash-strapped Ukraine on Wednesday, a day before EU leaders gather for a crisis summit.

A spokesperson for the EU executive said on Tuesday that a meeting had been scheduled to approve measures to help Ukraine through financial turmoil sparked by months of political unrest.

Brussels had offered Ukraine 610 million euros as part of a free trade and political association agreement that was rejected by now deposed Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych.

The Commission has not revealed details of the package, but reports suggest the 28-member bloc could free up an additional 500 million euros as the West faces off with Russia in a Cold War-style confrontation.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is weighing up several options, likely to be part of a broader International Monetary Fund package.

EU leaders will debate the aid programme at a special summit on the Ukraine crisis in Brussels on Thursday.

However, the package in the pipeline is a far cry from the 25 billion euros over two years the newly installed Ukrainian government says it needs.

It is expecting the IMF to provide 15 billion euros this year.

Earlier on Tuesday, the United States pledged US$1 billion (S$1.27 billion) in loan guarantees.

On Monday, the Commission sent a delegation of experts to Kiev to assess the troubled country's financial needs. The European economists will work alongside IMF experts expected in the country on Tuesday.

On Sunday, finance ministers of the G7 grouping of leading world economies said they were determined to support Ukraine's battered economy, provided the country agreed to the economic reforms sought by the IMF.