Bengaluru: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stepped up calls on Thursday for increased financing support to Ukraine to help it battle the year-old Russian invasion as the United States readies an additional $10 billion in economic assistance in coming weeks.
Yellen, speaking at a news conference in India on the eve of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, said it was critical for the International Monetary Fund to “move swiftly” towards a fully financed loan programme for Ukraine.
“As President Biden has said, we will stand with Ukraine in its fight – for as long as it takes,” she said. “Continued, robust support for Ukraine will be a major topic of discussion during my time here in India.”
Yellen is to join other finance ministers and heads of central banks from the Group of 20 nations on Friday for a meeting at a resort near the tech hub of Bengaluru. It is the first major meeting of India’s year-long presidency of the bloc, which includes G7 countries as well as Russia, China, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia.
Ukraine is seeking a $15 billion multi-year IMF programme, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Monday after meeting IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Kyiv.
Yellen said that previous U.S. military, economic and humanitarian aid totalling $46 billion has allowed Ukraine to preserve economic and financial stability under “extraordinary circumstances.”
“Our economic assistance is making Ukraine’s resistance possible by supporting the home front: funding critical public services and helping keep the government running. In the coming months, we expect to provide around $10 billion in additional economic support for Ukraine.”
India, which has kept a neutral stance on the war, does not want additional sanctions against Russia to be discussed at the G20 meetings, government sources have told Reuters. India also was pressing participants to avoid using “war” in communique language to describe the conflict, G20 officials said.
But Yellen said she would like to see forceful condemnation of the war and stressed that past G20 statements had contained strong language on the Ukraine conflict.
Yellen said the global economy “is in a better place today than many predicted just a few months ago,” with concerns fading that the Ukraine war’ spillovers would cause growth to slow sharply.
She said while headline inflation was beginning to ease in the United States and across the globe, it was important for G20 finance officials to keep working to quell inflation, adding: “We are not out of the woods yet.”
Yellen said that G20 countries, especially China, need to work to ease the debt overhang that is putting more than half of low-income countries in debt distress.
“I will continue to push for all bilateral official creditors, including China, to participate in meaningful debt treatments for developing countries and emerging markets in
distress,” she said, adding that debt treatment for Zambia and financing assurances for Sri Lanka were “most urgent”
Yellen said talks between the United States and China on economic issues would resume at an appropriate time, but also warned Beijing that providing any material support to Russia’s war effort would be “a very serious concern”.
Some engagements between Washington and Beijing have been suspended following the downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that floated over the continental United States, leaving the timing of previously planned visits to China by Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken unclear.
The G20 meetings also will be a key venue for working to advance reforms to the World Bank and other multilateral development banks to expand their lending to fight climate change, pandemics and other global challenges, she said.
She commended departing World Bank President David Malpass, saying that the bank under his leadership has “measurably improved the lives of people around the world.”
The United States intends to put forward a candidate for the World Bank presidency “very quickly”, she added. – Reuters
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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