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Kiev set to treat Russia unbiasedly in debt restructuring talks — finance minister

March 24, 2015, 19:36 UTC+3 LONDON
Ukraine has to repay $11 billion in 2015 while its balance of payments deficit amounts to $13 billion
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Natalie Jaresko (center) at a news conference

Natalie Jaresko (center) at a news conference

© Maxim Nikitin/TASS

LONDON, March 24. /TASS/. Kiev has no intention to use any discriminatory approach to Russia in talks on restructuring its $3 billion debt to Moscow, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said on Tuesday.

"We have no intention to discriminate [against creditors] on the grounds of nationality or location," Yaresko said in reply to a TASS’s question at the London-based Royal Institute of International Relations.

"We hope that our relations with creditors will be very transparent and based on the principles of fairness. We don’t see any other way," she said.

However, the Ukrainian finance minister declined to answer the question about whether Kiev would repay the debt in full, if the talks with Russia failed to crown with success until the end of the year.

"Today our hope is that Eurobond holders, irrespective of their nationality or location, will sit down to a negotiating table together with us to try to find a way out of the current unstable situation and help the Ukrainian economy and the Ukrainian state become better in the future, become a good borrower and a good payer," Jaresko said.

Jaresko said she had held a large number of meetings with Ukraine’s international creditors both in the United States and the United Kingdom and she hoped it would be possible to organize meetings with several international Ukrainian Eurobond holders at once already starting from next week.

"After these initial talks, we hope that the group representing various creditors who have various questions will be able to take part in negotiations which will hopefully start next week," the Ukrainian finance minister said, adding Kiev could no longer delay this issue.

"We have very little time. Technically, we have time until the end of May to reach agreement and receive the IMF’s second tranche," the finance minister said.

Jaresko said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Channel on Tuesday Kiev would be able to reach agreement with international creditors by late May on Ukraine’s $15 billion debt restructuring.

"Now I’m confident, considering the negotiations I have held that we’ll come to mutual understanding," she said.

The International Monetary Fund approved on March 11 a new expanded $17.5 billion loan program for Ukraine. Kiev has already received $5 billion from this aid package and expects another $5 billion by the end of this year.

The IMF’s new loan program is a major part of the international bailout package for Ukraine worth a total of $40 billion. The aid package envisages $15 billion Ukrainian debt restructuring.

However, if Kiev fails to reach agreement with creditors, the IMF’s second $5 billion tranche scheduled for disbursement until the end of this year will be frozen.

Kiev earlier applied to the Russian authorities with a request on debt restructuring but Moscow said it was not ready for this step.

Ukraine’s external debt hit $72.9 billion as of late 2014 while its internal debt stood at $29 billion and its gold and foreign currency reserves were less than $10 billion.

Ukraine has to repay $11 billion in 2015 while its balance of payments deficit amounts to $13 billion. Ukraine’s international reserves shrank by 12.4% as of March 1, 2015 to $5.625 billion, according to data of the National Bank of Ukraine.

Russia made a decision in late 2013 to invest up to $15 billion in Ukraine’s sovereign Eurobonds. Soon afterwards, Russia bought Ukraine’s first Eurobond tranche worth $3 billion with a two-year maturity and a coupon rate of 5% per annum and coupon payments every six months.

Russia subsequently decided against investing the other $12 billion in Ukraine’s bonds.

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