US gives Ukraine $1B loan guarantee

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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew signed a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine Monday, as the U.S. tried to bolster that nation’s efforts to resist Russia’s push into the region.

The U.S. guarantee will complement support the International Monetary Fund has agreed to provide to Ukraine. Under the arrangement, the U.S. will pay $1 billion in Ukrainian debt if that nation defaults.

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In March, that global body announced it was prepared to loan the nation up to $18 billion over the next two years to help the new government stabilize its finances.

Lew hailed the “tremendous courage” of the Ukrainian people after popular protests overthrew the previous Russia-aligned government, and touted U.S. efforts to put international pressure on Russia for its “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and destabilizing action.”

“The United States very much wants to see Ukraine prosper, and we will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they move forward to realize their long-held aspirations,” he said in a statement.

Lew met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak, on Monday to finalize the guarantee.

The U.S. has sought to support Ukraine and punish Russia ever since the former established a new government in March.

Shortly thereafter, Russia sent troops to its Ukrainian border and inside Crimea, the Russia-speaking Ukrainian region that subsequently voted to secede and join Russia. The international community, including the United States, has refused to recognize those results, calling them the result of improper pressure from Russia.

The U.S. and other Western nations have also established sanctions against a number of Russian individuals and institutions, aimed at punishing Russian power brokers including President Vladimir Putin.

Lew said Monday the U.S. is fully prepared to impose further sanctions on Russia if it continues to “escalate the situation in Ukraine, including apparently through support to a concerted campaign by armed militants in eastern Ukraine.”

—This report was updated at 11:02 a.m.