Ukraine Live Day 327: Russia May Require Ukraine To Repay $3 Billion Loan Early

January 10, 2015
"Ukrainian soldier outside #Debalstevo HQ. Soldiers say 500+ Ukr servicemen killed in area since conflict start." via @OllieCarroll

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

Gorlivka – The Ukrainian City Occupied By The Russian Military

Gorlivka (or Horlivka) has always been an important strategic location for the Russian-backed separatists and the Russian military supporting them. The town, located on a key crossroads between Donetsk and Lugansk (map), was one of the first locations taken over by militants, and the first commander of the militia there was the infamous Russian Lieutenant Igor Bezler, also known as the Demon.

Bezler is now missing, some have said he’s been assassinated, others say he’s alive, but his troops remain. Oliver Carroll reports from Gorlivka and says that locals say the town is occupied by the Russian military, and troops once loyal to Bezler remain but are separate. Is this a confirmation of what has been suggested for many months, that the Russian military took more direct control over events in Gorlivka and elsewhere in the Donbass?

James Miller
Russia May Require Ukraine To Repay $3 Billion Loan Early

The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia will meet on Monday in Berlin for the latest round of peace talks, but the reality is that prospects for peace, dim to begin with, seem to be fading. Violence has been increasing over the last several days, as have Ukrainian casualties, and now Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says that Ukraine is in violation of the conditions for a $3 billion loan that predates the Euromaidan revolution. Reuters reports:

Russia lent the money in December 2013 by buying Ukrainian Eurobonds, two months before Ukraine’s then-president, the pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovich, fled the country amid mass protests against his rule.

The terms of the loan deal included a condition that Ukraine’s total state debt should not exceed 60 percent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP).

Last month, rating agency Moody’s estimated that Ukraine’s debt amounted to 72 percent of GDP in 2014 and would rise to 83 percent in 2015. It also said “the risk of default is rising”.

Siluanov said the decision to recall the loan had not yet been made.

AFP also reports that two more Ukrainian soldiers have been killed today, adding to the four who were killed yesterday, according to Ukrainian officials:

Ukraine on Saturday reported the deaths of two more soldiers in a day of rocket strikes that also injured 20 troops. At least eight civilians and six servicemen — as well as an undisclosed number of militants — have been killed since Thursday night.

Poroshenko blamed the fresh bloodshed on Russia’s decision to continue covertly supplying the rebels with powerful weapons and tanks.

“The Ukrainian-Russian border remains open to incoming military equipment and the ceasefire is being constantly violated by the gunmen,” Poroshenko told visiting Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

Moscow has brushed off NATO satellite imagery purporting to show its units and heavy equipment moving into the war zone as forgeries.

— James Miller