Dec 8, 2019

IMF agrees to $5.5 billion loan for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting servicemen, Dec. 6. Photo: Evgeniya Maksymova/AFP via Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to lend Ukraine $5.5 billion two days before the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for peace talks in Paris, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The loan is an international endorsement of Zelensky’s anti-corruption and economic policies and a needed stimulant to the country's struggling economy, which has not fully recovered from a recession that followed its 2014 revolution.

The big picture: The loan also takes on a broader meaning in the context of the U.S. impeachment inquiry. Republicans have argued that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine because of concerns about corruption, which Zelensky pledged to root out during his election campaign.

  • Democrats allege that Trump was not concerned about corruption, and he simply wanted to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Details: The IMF praised Zelensky in a statement but also stipulated that he break ties with a former business partner accused of stealing government funds before the country can receive the loan.

  • Zelensky told Kristalina Georgieva, the fund’s managing director, that he would not break ties with his former business partner but would attempt to recover the stolen funds, according to the NYT.
  • “I commended the president for the impressive progress that he and his government have made in the past few months,” Georgieva said Saturday.

Go deeper: Russian blame game sows U.S. discord to weaken Ukraine

Go deeper

Ukraine still seeking White House meeting for Zelensky

Trump and Zelensky at the UN in September. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters in Washington on Friday that Ukraine is still working to schedule a White House meeting for President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: Kuleba emphasized that Ukraine needs strong support from the U.S. despite the current "turmoil" — a reference to impeachment proceedings. His status as the first member of Zelensky's government to visit Washington underlines the fact that Zelensky's own visit — which U.S. officials linked to Zelensky announcing investigations sought by President Trump — still has not happened.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels swap prisoners in step toward ending war

Pro-Russian rebels walk during a prisoner exchange. Photo: Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

The Ukrainian government and pro-Russia separatists exchanged dozens of prisoners on Sunday, a small step toward ending a six-year conflict in the eastern Donbass region that has claimed the lives of at least 13,000 soldiers and civilians, the AP reports.

The big picture: The exchange comes weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held preliminary peace talks in Paris with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany. Ukraine's government released around 87 separatist detainees at a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine in exchange for an estimated 55 prisoners from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.

Go deeper: Ukraine's Zelensky says Trump should not have blocked aid: "We're at war"

Keep ReadingArrowDec 29, 2019

Ukraine aid frozen soon after Trump's call with Zelensky, emails show

Ukrainian President Zelensky and President Trump during a September meeting in New York. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Office of Management and Budget is pushing back on suggestions that an email requesting the Pentagon withhold military aid to Ukraine 91 minutes after President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky was anything other than procedural.

Why it matters: Allegations that Trump froze nearly $400 million of congressionally approved military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate a potential 2020 rival are central to the impeachment case against the president. But an OMB spokeswoman said, "It’s reckless to tie the hold of funds to the phone call. As has been established and publicly reported, the hold was announced in an interagency meeting on July 18." 

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 23, 2019