MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s finance minister accused the IMF on Tuesday of bias in changing its lending rules to allow it to potentially help Ukraine if Kiev misses payments on its $3 billion (£2 billion) debt to Moscow.
The rule change would allow the IMF to keep supporting countries if they fail to repay official debt.
“The decision to change the rules seems rushed and biased,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told journalists. “It’s taken exclusively to the detriment of Russia and in order to legalise Kiev not repaying its debts.”
He said Russia was preparing to take Ukraine to court over the Eurobond held by Moscow that is due to be repaid on Dec. 20.
Ukraine, which reached an agreement with private creditors to restructure its sovereign and sovereign-guaranteed debt to plug a $15 billion funding gap under an IMF-led $40 billion bailout programme, has insisted the debt owed to Moscow is commercial.
But Russia, which is involved in confrontation with Ukraine over annexation of its Crimean peninsula and support for separatist rebels in the east, has said it is country-to-country official debt outside the scope of Kiev’s deal with private creditors.
Moscow had initially wanted the two-year Eurobond, taken out by the government of pro-Moscow ex-president Viktor Yanukovich only two months before he was ousted by street protests in February 2014, to be fully repaid in December.
But in an unexpected move, President Vladimir Putin offered a restructuring deal last month that would allow Ukraine annual repayments of $1 billion for the next three years, starting in 2016. Ukraine has not responded to the offer.
“We made a step forward - we proposed a solution to Ukraine’s debt problems and turned to the IMF because we understood that Kiev could not solve its debt problems on its own,” Siluanov said.
“But we were offered to negotiate together with commercial lenders. This is not a constructive dialogue. The circle has closed.”
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Alexander Winning/Ruth Pitchford