Yellen, G7 urge renewed aid for Ukraine as G20 finance chiefs gather
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stepped up calls on Thursday for increased financial support for Ukraine to help it battle the year-old Russian invasion as the United States readies an additional $10 billion in economic assistance.
Yellen, speaking at a news conference in India on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s 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 wealthy G7 democracies as well as Russia, China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
In a joint statement, the G7 finance ministers said the bloc hoped Ukraine and the IMF could agree on a loan programme by March, adding that they had increased financial aid for Ukraine for this year to $39 billion. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said his country was already supporting Ukraine and now other nations had to do their part.
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 had allowed Ukraine to preserve economic and financial stability.
“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,” she added.
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 was also pressing participants to avoid using “war” in communique language to describe the conflict, G20 officials said.
But Yellen said the communique was still under discussion and that she would like to see a “strong condemnation” of Russia’s invasion and the damage it has caused to Ukraine and the global economy.
Nevertheless, she said the global economy “is in a better place today than many predicted just a few months ago”.
Yellen 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.”
She said G20 countries, especially China, needed to work to restructure the debts of low- and middle-income countries facing distress, especially the “most urgent” cases of Zambia and Sri Lanka. The G7 also said the bloc would also work on debt relief for such “vulnerable countries”.
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 were suspended following the downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that floated over the continental United States this month, including previously planned visits to China by Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Yellen told reporters the United States would quickly nominate a candidate for the World Bank presidency. As the U.S. Treasury manages the dominant U.S. shareholding in the World Bank, Yellen has a big say over who leads the institution which plans to open nominations for the post later on Thursday.