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20 Mar, 2024 20:41

Ukraine could repay West with Russian resources – ex-minister

A former Kiev official floated the idea in response to Washington’s “loan” proposal
Ukraine could repay West with Russian resources – ex-minister

If Kiev wins, Washington and its allies will be rewarded for their military aid with Russian natural resources, Ukraine’s former infrastructure minister, Vladimir Omelyan, has told Politico. The proposal came in response to rumors that the US might convert its donations to loans instead.

According to the US outlet, Republicans in Congress have suggested converting a fifth of the $60 billion in aid to Ukraine requested by the White House into a loan. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he had brought up the idea during his recent visit to Kiev.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba told reporters on Tuesday he needed to see details in order to comment on the proposal. An anonymous source close to President Vladimir Zelensky also called for more specifics before any decision could be made.

Omelyan, however, stated that the West would end up receiving Russian natural resources for its efforts. 

“If we win, you will be paid back in Russian oil, gas, diamonds and fur,” he told Politico. “If we lose, there will be no issue about money – it will become the issue of how the West can survive.”

Omelyan ran Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry from 2016 to 2019 and is a critic of Zelensky’s government. However, his comments are in line with Kiev’s official “peace formula” that wants Russia to pay reparations, give up all territory claimed by Ukraine, and submit to a war crimes tribunal.

Kuleba and the unnamed aide, however, seemed far more reluctant about the loan idea. Graham had suggested the loan might be forgiven under certain circumstances, the aide said. He added that the notion itself was “somewhat offensive” to Ukrainians, as Kiev felt entitled to US support on account of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Ukraine gave up its claims to Soviet nuclear weapons. 

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was likewise pessimistic about Kiev’s prospects on Tuesday, arguing that Ukraine’s very survival was in danger unless Washington and its allies could come up with more cash. American “honor and security” were also on the line, the Pentagon head told the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Ramstein, Germany. 

The $60 billion aid package, originally requested in October, has faced multiple obstacles in Congress. The White House has tried a range of justifications to get the opposition Republicans to unblock the funding, from presenting it as a stimulus for the US economy to arguing that Russia would overrun all of NATO if Ukraine is defeated.

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