EU's Juncker announces new 1.8 bn euros in Ukraine aid
The EU plans to give Ukraine a further 1.8 billion euros to help prop up an economy hit hard by a bloody conflict with Russian-backed rebels, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday.
The 1.8 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in medium-term loans will help Ukraine "with the critical challenges" it faces and support the political and economic reforms the European Union believes are crucial to its future, a Commission statement said.
"The Commission has decided to extend its financial assistance" to Ukraine with "an additional sum of 1.8 billion euros", Juncker told reporters in the Latvian capital Riga.
The bloc's 28 members and the European Parliament must still approve the additional loans for them to go into effect.
Commission members were in the Baltic state to mark Latvia's turn at the helm of the rotating EU presidency, which it assumed on January 1 for six months.
"Ukraine is not alone. Europe stands united behind Ukraine and the reform agenda of the new government," Juncker said in the Commission statement.
"The European Union has provided unprecedented financial support and today's proposal proves that we are ready to continue providing that support. This is European solidarity in action."
The Commission said the additional funds were meant to "assist Ukraine economically and financially with the critical challenges the country is facing, such as a weak balance of payments and fiscal situation."
The EU has already released 1.6 billion euros in loans to Ukraine to rescue the almost bankrupt Kiev government.
The EU and international lenders have backed Kiev since the overthrow in February 2014 of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, after he ditched a pact for closer relations with Brussels and sparked a separatist war in eastern Ukraine and a deep economic crisis.
© 2015 AFP