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Ashton off to Kiev with new financial offer

Published: February 4, 2014 | 1:28 pm
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EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton is going to Kiev to offer money in exchange for a political solution to the crisis, as the number of pro-sanctions EU countries grows.

Ashton’s officials gave some details of the new financial offer to EU ambassadors in the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels on Monday (3 February).

They said it will be conditional on President Viktor Yanukovych making concessions to opposition demands, but not on his signature of an EU association and free trade treaty or on International Monetary Fund recommednations for long-term economic reform.

They did not reveal the amount for fear of leaks.

But they said the money will come from an international group of donors, including the EU, the US, Azerbaijan, Japan and Norway.

The PSC meeting also witnessed growing support for Lithuania’s idea the EU should prepare financial sanctions against Yanukovych’s inner circle.

EU sources said three member states, including one country whose banks host large amounts of regime assets, backed Lithuania’s proposal.

Germany was not one of them.

But German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Germany’s national TV broadcaster, ARD, on Monday evening: “We need to show sanctions as a threat at this point.”

Ashton is due in Kiev late on Tuesday and to hold meetings with regime and opposition leaders on Wednesday.

The new offer of financial assistance comes after Russia froze disbursements of its $15 billion Ukraine bailout and warned Yanukovych that he has $2.7 billion of gas debts.

The freeze puts him in a vulnerable position, because a sovereign default amid the popular uprising could see him lose power.

But some EU diplomats are concerned Ashton will sell the aid too cheaply.

Source: EUobserve

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