Bonds News

UPDATE 1-Russia files lawsuit against Ukraine over $3 bln debt

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MOSCOW, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Russia filed a lawsuit against Ukraine on Wednesday at London’s High Court in connection with a $3 billion Eurobond debt, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.

“The lawsuit was filed after repeated unsuccessful attempts to encourage Ukraine to (engage in) a constructive dialogue on debt restructuring,” Siluanov said.

He added that Ukraine was not ready to negotiate in a “spirit of goodwill”.

Relations between the two neighbours have been fraught over a conflict between pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine and Ukrainian government forces.

Moscow and Kiev have also been at loggerheads over the $3 billion Eurobond issued in late 2013 and which had a maturity date of Dec. 20 of last year.

Ukraine included it in the external debt it earmarked for restructuring as part of an IMF-led bailout programme.

Russia has repeatedly declined to participate in the restructuring process, while Ukraine has insisted it could not repay the bond in full.

Siluanov said he believed that the court proceedings in London would be open and transparent.

“I think ... the protection of rights of the Russian Federation as a creditor will be carried out by an independent, authoritative court, which will impartially consider the dispute between the two sovereigns,” he said.

The two-year Eurobond was taken out by the government of Moscow-backed ex-president Viktor Yanukovich just two months before he fled to Russia in February 2014 in the face of street protests that brought a pro-European government to power.

In a surprise move late last year, President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine new terms on the bond, saying Moscow would accept an annual debt repayment of $1 billion over three years if the West provided guarantees.

Ukraine did not agree to those terms. (Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Alexander Winning)