U.S., EU prepare to throw money at Ukraine

U.S., EU prepare to throw money at Ukraine

[Ed. – So this is what it takes to get our attention.]

In what some Western diplomats see as a troubling sign…Moscow recalled its ambassador to Ukraine for “consultations,” Russia’s foreign ministry announced late Sunday.

European governments, in joining the U.S. in responding to the fast-moving events in Ukraine, revived plans to offer a large aid package to the country, but continued to insist funds would come only with pledges of a major economic overhaul.

European officials said a trade-and-aid deal with Europe—which Mr. Yanukovych walked away from in November, triggering the turmoil on the streets in Ukraine that culminated in his ouster—could also be resuscitated and signed with a new government as early as next month.

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The EU’s foreign policy chief,  Catherine Ashton, canceled a trip to Asia and decided to travel to Ukraine Monday for two days of talks. “She is expected to meet key stakeholders and discuss the support of the European Union for a lasting solution to the political crisis and measures to stabilize the economic situation,” a statement said.

The uprising against Mr. Yanukovych, and his fall, marked an unexpected victory for Washington and Europe in their escalating competition with Mr. Putin on the geopolitical stage. …

An EU official said a summit with Ukraine could be convened as early as next month, during which the stalled trade deal with the country could be signed.

That pact could come with a large aid package that could exceed the almost €20 billion ($27.5 billion) over seven years that EU officials had previously considered tying to the EU political-and-trade agreement. “This is now a very conservative estimate,” the official said. “Given the current circumstances, we expect member states to give much more. We hope to have more news on this in the next days.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, however, that a bankrupt Ukraine would be too big a burden for Russia or the EU to bear.

In Sydney, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said economic reforms “need to be started, at least,” for the international community to help. The fund wants a hefty, but phased-in increase in natural gas prices, a currency depreciation and significant cuts in the government’s budget, all of which are politically controversial.

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