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Ukraine has no 'justifiable defense' for non-payment of $3bn debt to Russia - UK court

Ukraine has no 'justifiable defense' for non-payment of $3bn debt to Russia - UK court
The High Court in London has ruled Ukraine failed to offer a “justifiable” or court-ready defense for not paying back the $3 billion lent by Russia in 2013. The judge refused to send the case to a full trial.

The decision rejected Kiev's claim the non-payment was a countermeasure against Russian interference with Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“Ultimately this is a claim for repayment of debt instruments to which the court has held there is no justifiable defense. It would not be right to order the case to go forward to a full trial in such circumstances,” said Judge William Blair, stressing that the court had given the case careful consideration.

Ukraine plans to appeal the decision and has been granted a stay until late April, according to Finance Minister Aleksandr Danilyuk. “Ukraine received the judge's permission to appeal,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.

The case focuses on $3 billion Moscow lent Kiev in December 2013 during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in the Euromaidan coup a year later. The financial aid from Russia to Ukraine came in the form of a Eurobond governed by English law.

After Ukraine had failed to repay the notes by December 20, 2015, Russia brought a lawsuit in the English courts.

Moscow also offered Kiev a debt-relief plan, under which it could repay its arrears in three installments of $1 billion over three years.

However, Ukraine refused to pay, claiming the money was a political credit which the country was forced to take.

Earlier this year, Russia had applied to the High Court to decide its claim without going to trial.

READ MORE: Kiev says litigation over debt to Russia could drag on for years

Ukraine insisted on the full hearing, citing the political nature of the case. According to Kiev, in 2013 the Ukrainian government was a subject to “massive, unlawful and illegitimate economic and political pressure.” The defense claims the Kremlin deterred the country’s authorities from signing an Association Agreement with the EU, forcing Ukraine to accept Russian financial aid instead.