KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Officials from the International Monetary Fund say they expect the United States will continue playing its key role in amassing multinational support that has helped keep Ukraine’s economy afloat during Russia’s invasion.
That’s despite Congress recently passing a short-term funding package that averted a U.S. government shutdown but dropped $6 billion in aid to Ukraine. It’s not clear if, when or how that aid installment might be restored.
The U.S. has already sent or committed $69.5 billion in military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to the Institute for the World Economy in Kiel, Germany.
“ President Biden has made an announcement … that he is fully committed to supporting Ukraine,” Uma Ramakrishnan, IMF European department deputy director, said at a news conference Wednesday in Kyiv. ”And so from our standpoint, the baseline assumption remains that the U.S. remains committed.”
She added that “it is premature for us to comment on what will materialize or not, because we have to wait for the process to play out.”
Officials from the Washington-based IMF also said Ukraine’s economy was showing surprising resilience despite widespread damage from Russia’s war.
The Ukrainian economy has shown improving growth and lower inflation this year after the disastrous loss in 2022 of around a third of its output, including from war destruction and Russian occupation of key industrial areas.
Key to that improvement has been foreign financial aid, which gets less attention than military supplies but helps Ukraine keep paying civil servants and pensioners. It also has helped keep people’s savings and salaries from vanishing due to price spikes.
The budget aid means Ukraine’s government can avoid using the central bank to print money to cover its bills — an emergency necessity it turned to in the first days of the invasion, but a practice that can lead to runaway inflation.
Annual inflation has fallen from 26% in January to 8.6% in August. The central bank on Monday was confident enough in the stability of Ukraine’s currency to drop a fixed exchange rate imposed at the start of the war.
The IMF is lending Ukraine $15.6 billion over four years. That should clear the way for a total of $115 billion from donor countries that is expected to cover the government’s financing needs. The IMF loan helps bring in funds from other donors who are reassured by the IMF’s review of Ukraine’s economic practices and requirements to improve governance and fight corruption.
Ukraine is “making good progress” on passing legislation on a specialized anti-corruption prosecutor, said IMF Ukraine mission chief Gavin Gray. Bills were introduced in September ahead of a December deadline under the loan agreement.
IMF loan agreements with Ukraine before the war had stalled due to lack of progress in curbing corruption and the influence of politically influential business moguls. These oligarchs have kept a low profile since the invasion, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has fired several top government officials suspected of misconduct to show he is serious in fighting corruption.
Ukraine’s economy “is certainly adapting to the war environment and showing remarkable resilience,” with increasing consumer demand boosting growth, deputy mission chief Nathan Epstein said.
He added that economic growth should be at the upper end of the IMF forecast of 1%-3% this year.
McHugh reported from Frankfurt, Germany.
This story has been corrected to show that the IMF loan package is over four years, not three.