EU suggests Moscow cut Kiev 'good friend' debt rate

Ukraine's President-elect Petro Proshenko (L) walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) during the commemoration ceremony for the 70th anniversary of D-Day at Sword beach in Ouistreham June 6, 2014. © Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russia should show some good will and offer Ukraine a “good friend” rate on its $3 billion debt, suggests EU Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas.

When asked during a Wednesday radio interview, if showing good will implies allowing Kiev not to pay its sovereign debts, the ambassador was ambiguous.

“No, you have to pay the debts. Of course. But sometimes, like good friends, sometimes we have to write off. Therefore, we have made the proposal and agreed to write off 20 percent of Ukraine’s debts. I personally think that it would also be good will from Russia to follow the example of the EU and the US,” Usackas told Vesti FM.

In November, Moscow offered Kiev a three-year installment plan that included no payment this year, and three €1 billion payments in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In exchange for the offer, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded guarantees from the US, the EU and international financial organizations. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said this week Ukraine’s Western partners have refused to provide such guarantees.

Commenting, Usackas said the EU and the US have made a 20 percent debt write-off and postponed the payout date by four years and that Russia hasn’t agreed to those terms.

The interviewer asked why the International Monetary Fund so easily changed its lending rules for Ukraine and promised to continue bankrolling Kiev despite the possible non-payment of sovereign debt to Russia, and why Greece, as an EU member, doesn’t get the same privilege.

“This is our business,” replied the EU ambassador, adding that the loans given to Greece are much bigger.

Ukraine’s debt to Russia is due December 20. Moscow has warned Kiev it will file a lawsuit if it fails to pay after a 10-day grace period expires.