Victoria Nuland, U.S. secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said the U.S. has been internally preparing more financial support to Ukraine.
“Senior IMF leadership was in Ukraine this week issuing a public validation of the reform program going forward but also confirming that the program agreed last year is going to need a significant adjustment – that there is a fiscal hole to the tune of $10-15 billion,” Nuland said at the American Enterprise Institute during a discussion examining the Ukrainian revolution one year later.
“We expect that the IMF and the World Bank will have to increase their support for Ukraine but that the United States, Europe and other friends around the world will as well. We internally have been preparing more support for Ukraine. I think we will wait and hear what the IMF requires but we have also been in very active conversations with the EU asking that they will also give a signal of support,” she added.
Nuland, who infamously was recorded saying “F**k the EU” at the height of the Ukraine crisis early this year, said the economic sanctions are having an effect on Russia.
“I think the market information that we’re seeing from Russia today is a clear indication that the isolation that the Kremlin has wrought, the pressure that the U.S. and Europe and others have brought to bear on the Russian economy is having an effect. I personally believe there might have been even more aggressive action in Ukraine had we not had a steadily escalating set of measures together, the U.S. and Europe, had the U.S. and Europe not been completely unified along with Australia, Japan, other friends, in our approach,” Nuland said.
“We have a really toxic cocktail with the effect of sanctions, with low oil prices, with the impact finally being felt inside Russia of the economic mismanagement of the last 10-15 years where the economy is so hydrocarbon dependent, so it is a point of decision-making for the Russia leadership but also for the Russian people,” she added.
Nuland said Russia has to decide whether their aggressive policy toward neighbors is worth it and whether the choice to prioritize “imperial ambition” over the “well being” of their own citizens is in the best interest of the country.
Nuland told the audience the entire structure of procurement and battle management of the Ukrainian military is going to have to be realigned and reformed.
“It’s going to take support. It’s going to take effort; that is why one of our main lines of work with Ukraine is this bottom-up review of the military that European command has been conducting and beginning the equipping and training of Ukrainian military units at their request, so we’re very much focused on that,” she said.
Nuland stressed that the U.S. will continue to push for Russia to honor the Minsk Protocol, which was signed by Russia, by separatists and Ukraine.
She called the Minsk agreement, which requires withdrawl of foreign forces and military as well as a hostage exchange, a good and fair deal.
“We will continue to say to Russia if that is fully implemented, sanctions will be rolled back. It’s Russia’s choice,” Nuland said.
Nuland said the U.S. and others want Russia to live up to the expectations they agreed to in September.
“I’ve long since stopped trying to get inside the head of decision-makers in the Kremlin,” she said. “It hasn’t been a productive exercise.”