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U.K. Court Dismisses Ukraine's Defense In Case Of $3 Billion Debt To Russia

A court in London has ruled that Ukraine has failed to present a court-ready defense in a suit by Russia seeking repayment of $3 billion lent by Moscow to the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Judge William Blair ruled in a March 29 pretrial hearing that because of Ukraine's failure to present a "justiciable" defense, the case could not go forward to trial.

Ukraine immediately asked for a stay of the decision pending an appeal. A stay was granted until the end of April.

Ukraine's defense in the case was based on four points: that the debt was incurred under duress; that the terms of loan were unfair; that the Ukrainian government at that time lacked the capacity to enter into the agreement; and that nonpayment was a justifiable countermeasure to Russia's 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea and Moscow's interference in Ukraine's economic and political situation.

The judge ruled that the duress and countermeasure arguments were potentially compelling but that they were a matter of international law beyond the London court's jurisdiction.

Yanukovych contracted the debt when his government faced massive protests over his decision to suspend the signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union. He was forced out of power in February 2014 and fled to Russia.

Authorities in Kyiv say much of the money was lost to corruption on the part of Yanukovych and officials in his government.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS

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