Russia declines Belarus, Ukraine loan requests

ISTANBUL, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not disburse the last $500 million tranche of a $2 billion stabilization loan to Belarus and will not grant a $5 billion loan to Ukraine, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Monday.

"So far, we are not considering the continuation of the loan disbursement to Belarus," Kudrin said.

Russia decided late last year to allocate a $2 billion loan to Belarus. The former Soviet republic has already received $1.5 billion, but Russia's Finance Ministry has refused to disburse the last tranche, saying it needed to assess carefully the prospects of loan repayment.

Apart from Russia, Belarus is also raising money from the International Monetary Fund. On January 12, 2009, the IMF approved a 15-month standby loan worth about $2.46 billion and the Fund's experts later recommended the IMF board to increase the loan facility by $1 billion.

Kudrin said, however, that Russia would help Belarus and Ukraine obtain loans from the IMF and the anti-crisis fund of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Ukraine had earlier sought a loan of around $5 billion from Russia to pump gas into its underground storage facilities to avoid interruptions with gas transit to Europe.

Ukraine is also borrowing funds from the IMF. In November 2008, the IMF approved a $16.4 billion loan for Ukraine. Ukraine has already received three tranches of $4.5 billion, $2.8 billion and $3.3 billion as part of a stabilization loan program provided by the IMF to stabilize its economy.

"We are carefully watching the fulfillment [by Ukraine] of the IMF program. As a member of the IMF, Russia supports the IMF loan disbursement to Ukraine but does not plan to grant a loan on a bilateral basis," Kudrin said.



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