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

Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 33,454,037 — Total deaths: 1,003,571 — Total recoveries: 23,204,219Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 7,165,067 — Total deaths: 205,476 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.

NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.