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Ukraine can't restructure foreign debt without restructuring its debt to Russia — expert

March 25, 2015, 11:14 UTC+3 KIEV
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
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

KIEV, March 24. /TASS/. Ukraine’s foreign debts cannot be restructured without restructuring of its $3 billion debt to Russia, since this process is to rest on equal attitude to all creditors, Oleg Ustenko, the executive director of the Blazer International Fund, told TASS on Tuesday.

"We cannot restructure all the debts without Russia, because the first and foremost condition of debt restructuring is equality - all creditors must be granted equal rights. If restructuring is for all it means it is for all," he said, adding that in such conditions "Ukraine is driven into the corner."

Ustenko said that in talks with other creditors Ukraine could try to seek lower interest on loans, which was impossible with Russia. "Whereas Ukraine would try to press all other creditors to bring down the interest to 6-7%, it wouldn’t be able to do that in respect of Russia. We are to pay a coupon rate of five percent per annum on the Russian loan," he said, adding that such low interest could be called a "bonus" interest.

However, he said, despite this Ukraine should negotiate debt restructuring with Russia. "We can negotiate extension of maturity term. We should try to reduce the cost of the principal of the loan," he said. "We have either to try to reach an agreement with Russia or to embark on another strategy - to repay $3 billion and restructure all other debts to be paid, but not this year."

Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, a Chicago-born former US state department official, said earlier on Tuesday that Kiev would be able to reach agreement with international creditors by late May on Ukraine’s $15 billion debt restructuring.

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 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 rest $12 billion in Ukraine’s bonds.

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