Ukraine says it can save nearly $5.5 billion by postponing debt repayments

Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal addresses the closing news conference during the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano, Switzerland July 5, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

KYIV, July 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine can save 200 billion hryvnias ($5.45 billion) for priority needs by deferring its external debt repayments, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday.

Ukraine has launched a formal consent solicitation to holders of its international bonds, proposing a two-year debt freeze on most of its bonds and giving creditors until August 9 to vote on the proposal.

Shmyhal also said the Ukrainian government had approved a request to the U.S. government for a "gas lend-lease" arrangement to help Ukraine through what he said would be the toughest heating season in its history.

Yuriy Vitrenko, chief executive of Ukraine's state oil and gas company Naftogaz, said last week the company was working with the government to raise $8 billion in funds to buy 4 billion extra cubic metres (bcm) of gas needed for Ukraine's 2022/23 heating season.

Vitrenko said on July 18 that Ukraine currently had reserves of 11.5 bcm and had secured funding for imports to get reserves up to 15 bcm, but that a higher target of 19 bcm had been set by the government due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

($1 = 36.7000 hryvnias)

Reporting by Max Hunder, Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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