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

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The big picture: If Trump's presidency started the "America First" era of withdrawal from global alliances, Biden's team says his presidency would be the opposite: a re-engagement with the world and an effort to rebuild those alliances — fast.

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Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

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Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.