KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday he has nominated former finance minister Oksana Markarova as the country’s new ambassador to Washington, where she would be close to the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund.
Ukraine is struggling to unlock a $5 billion programme that the approved in June. The IMF disbursed the first $2.1 billion, but it has delayed further tranches on concerns over anti-corruption reforms and the independence of the central bank.
“Ukraine will have for the first time an ambassador to Washington who is well-known in the U.S. Administration, including the State Department and the Treasury, and as well in the IMF,” Kuleba wrote on Facebook.
While Ukraine’s prime minister and central bank governor are the country’s two main points of contact with the Fund, a familiar representative in Washington may prove helpful.
Her appointment has yet to be approved by Ukraine’s president.
Markarova, 44, led the finance ministry from June 2018 to March 2020. She also worked as a deputy under minister Natalie Yaresko playing a key role in talks with the IMF and holders of Ukraine’s bonds which resulted in the restructuring of $15-billion of Ukrainian sovereign debt in 2015.
Ukraine is keen not only to resume the IMF financial assistance to keep it afloat despite its debt pressures and economic decline amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also to improve Kyiv’s good political standing.
The country became embroiled in U.S. politics last year when a whistleblower revealed that President Donald Trump had asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump was accused by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives of abusing his office and impeached, but he was acquitted in February this year by the Republican-held Senate.
“The former and successful minister of finance, by definition, cannot be a bad diplomat,” said Kuleba.
Markarova was not immediately available for comment.
Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Matthias Williams and Hugh Lawson
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