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Russia Says Will Stay In IMF Despite 'Politicization'

  • RFE/RL

Russian officials said they will stay in the International Monetary Fund despite the fund's "political" motives for changing its rules this week so Ukraine could more easily skip payments on its debt to Russia.

"This is a very important and necessary institution, especially in today's challenging situation in the world economy," Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Moscow December 10.

"I think it would make no sense whatsoever to pull out of the fund. We'll remain key participants in this important international financial institution, as we always have been."

Siluanov's remarks came the same day he raised questions about the "impartiality" of the IMF because it dropped a rule on December 8 that forbids the fund from lending to member countries that are in arrears on loans from other sovereign nations.

The move was widely seen as helping Ukraine in its efforts to force Russia to write down its debts, although the IMF said it had been contemplating the rule change since 2013.

"Well-founded principles should be changed only after due consideration, and not in response to the politics of the moment," Siluanov wrote in the Financial Times December 10.

"Imagine if the Greek government had insisted that [European Union] institutions accept the same haircut as the country's private creditors," he wrote.

"The reaction in European capitals would have been frosty. Yet this is the position now taken by Kyiv with respect to Ukraine's $3 billion eurobond held by Russia."

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also questioned the IMF's impartiality recently, saying the fund "has for the first time in its history taken a decision...solely for political reasons."

The $3 billion debt held by Russia is due December 20 and Moscow has demanded repayment in full, spurning Ukraine's offers to restructure it.

Russia has vowed to go to court if Ukraine defaults, but recently President Vladimir Putin signalled that Russia might agree to a restructuring if the United States or European Union provides gaurantees on the deal.

With reporting by AFP, Interfax, and TASS