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15 Oct, 2023 12:46

West ‘tired’ of Ukraine, Zelensky’s finance minister admits

Kiev’s donors are increasingly distracted by domestic problems and tensions in the Middle East, according to Sergey Marchenko
West ‘tired’ of Ukraine, Zelensky’s finance minister admits

Securing financial support is becoming more difficult for Kiev as the country’s Western backers shift their focus to domestic matters and geopolitical tensions, the Ukrainian finance minister told Reuters on Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings in Marrakech, Sergey Marchenko said Kiev is having to make “twice the effort right now to convince our partners to provide us with support compared to the last annual meetings” in spring.

I see a lot of tiredness, I see a lot of weakness among our partners, they would like to forget about the war but the war is still ongoing, full-scale,” the minister said, referring to the conflict with Russia.

Among the factors diverting Western attention from Ukraine, the official named the hostilities between Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the Israel Defense Forces. Many fear the conflict could spread to the broader Middle East, disrupting the entire global economy, as the region is a crucial supplier of energy and a key shipping hub.

Marchenko also pointed to next year’s elections in the US and Europe as another distraction. He stressed that “a geopolitical shift and internal political context in different countries” was making allies’ governments less focused on supporting Ukraine.

Kiev currently needs Western financial support to cover most of its $43 billion budget spending requirements in 2024.

We already have some commitments, like $5.4 billion from the IMF program, and we expect commitments from Japan and United Kingdom, and of course, we rely on our key partners and allies the United States and European Union,” Marchenko said. Ukraine is also looking for ways to restructure its international debt and secure new financing, the official said, without providing a timeframe for when discussions with private creditors could begin.

Earlier this week, Marchenko wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that Ukraine had received a tranche of $1.2 billion in aid from Washington, bringing US support for Kiev this year to $10.9 billion. The EU promised Ukraine €18 billion ($18.9 billion) in aid this year, and Brussels is currently working on another €50 billion support package to be distributed from 2024 to 2027.

Also, Belgium announced earlier this week that it would transfer to Ukraine tax revenue worth €1.7 billion generated from Russian assets frozen by the Euroclear clearing house. The step was discussed in Marrakech, and according to a post-meeting statement from G7 central bank governors and finance ministers on Thursday, it may be replicated by other Western states, despite legal concerns. Marchenko said the decision shows that for Western states, handing Russian assets over to Ukraine now “sounds like a plan.

Russia strongly opposes using its frozen assets as aid to Ukraine, arguing that it goes against international law, and calling it outright “theft.”

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