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21 Mar, 2024 11:20

Ukraine ‘offended’ by US talk of loans – Politico

Kiev wants to know under what conditions it could avoid paying off the potential debt, the paper’s source claims
Ukraine ‘offended’ by US talk of loans – Politico

Ukraine finds a proposal first floated by Republican Party frontrunner Donald Trump to provide it with loans instead of non-repayable aid unsurprising but still “offensive,” Politico reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources close to President Vladimir Zelensky’s office. 

Trump suggested last month that the US could give Ukraine loans on extremely generous terms instead of approving President Joe Biden’s national security package that includes $60 billion for the embattled country. The idea has gained traction among Republicans.   

Top Republican Senator Lindsey Graham traveled to Kiev earlier this week, where he told Zelensky that the “idea of turning aid from the United States into a no-interest, waivable loan is the most likely path forward,” given the crisis on the Mexican border and the country’s “overwhelming debt.” 

Some Republicans have advocated pumping $48 billion out of the $60 billion back into the US defense industrial base and eventually sending the weapons produced to Ukraine. The remaining $12 billion, GOP lawmakers argue, could be given directly to Kiev in the form of a loan.

According to a Politico source close to Zelensky’s office, Kiev “ha[s] not heard any specific proposals for such a strategy,” adding that it would like “to know the conditions under which Ukraine will not have to pay it back.” 

Still, he noted that if the loan were waivable as per Graham’s remarks, the idea “does not sound so critical.”

Nevertheless, the official described the proposal as “somewhat offensive to people here,” recalling the 1994 Budapest Memorandum under which Ukraine agreed to voluntarily give up its sizable Soviet-era stockpile of nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from the US, Britain, and Russia. Moscow has argued that the deal was fundamentally undermined by NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

Ukraine has been pressing the West for more military support throughout the conflict, with complaints of the ammunition shortages growing louder in recent weeks as the US aid remains stalled in the Congress.

Meanwhile, Russian forces recently drove Ukrainian troops from the strategic Donbass city of Avdeevka and a number of nearby settlements.

Moscow has repeatedly denounced Western arms shipments to Ukraine, saying they will only prolong the conflict rather than change its outcome.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said in October that Ukraine’s economy depended completely on foreign support and would promptly collapse if it did not receive regular cash infusions.