EU offers Ukraine 1.2 billion euro aid package

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a statement on Ukraine at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 24, 2022. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

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BRUSSELS, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The European Union aims to help Ukraine with a 1.2 billion euro financial aid package to mitigate the effects of the conflict with Russia, which has amassed troops and heavy weapons on Ukraine's border, EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

"The Commission proposes a new emergency macro-financial assistance package of 1.2 billion euros," von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels on Monday, adding the package would be made up of both emergency loans and grants.

An estimated 100,000 Russian troops are within reach of the Ukrainian border while Moscow waits for written responses from Washington and NATO to its security demands. read more

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Russia wants NATO to withdraw its promise that Ukraine can one day join the alliance, and to pull back troops and weaponry from former Communist countries in eastern Europe that joined it after the Cold War.

Von der Leyen, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday, said the EU's financial aid package was meant to "help Ukraine now to address its rapid escalation in financing needs due to the conflict".

She noted she was counting on the European Council, grouping EU governments, and EU lawmakers to approve the emergency support as soon as possible in order to rapidly disburse a first tranche of 600 million euros.

Von der Leyen called on international partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to follow the same approach and renew their engagement with Ukraine.

The European Commission itself, the bloc's executive, would almost double its bilateral assistance in grants to Kyiv this year, adding another 120 million euros on top of the 160 million euros already planned, she said.

Since 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea and separatists supported by Moscow took control over eastern Ukraine, the EU and European financial institutions have allocated over 17 billion euros in grants and loans to the country, according to von der Leyen.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Marine Strauss

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