EU ready with "substantial" financial aid to Ukraine

SYDNEY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The European Union is ready to offer substantial financial aid to Ukraine once it has a new government, and should offer a clear European perspective to Kiev, the EU’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Sunday.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich after three months of street protests. Yanukovich abandoned the capital to the opposition on Saturday and denounced what he described as a coup after several days of bloodshed this week that claimed 82 lives.

Removal of the pro-Russian Yanukovich should pull Ukraine away from Moscow’s orbit and closer to Europe. It is also a reversal for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dream of recreating as much as possible of the Soviet Union in a new Eurasian Union. Moscow had counted on Yanukovich to deliver Ukraine as a central member.

“From a European point of view it is important that we provide a clear European perspective for the Ukrainian people who have shown their commitment to European values,” Rehn said after a meeting of the world’s financial leaders in Sydney.

“We are ready to engage in substantial financial assistance for Ukraine once a political solution, based on democratic principles, is finalised and once there is a new government which is genuinely and seriously engaged in institutional and economic reforms,” he said.

Asked how substantial the aid from the European Union to Ukraine could be, Rehn said that the EU was evaluating the needs.

“We have to live up to the challenge of this historic moment,” he told a news conference.