The United States is prepared to send financial aid to Ukraine above and beyond a loan program that the International Monetary Fund is offering in the wake of a bloody political crisis.
Kiev is in desperate need of money as the country seeks a new direction — and U.S. officials on Monday said Washington would be willing to provide some assistance after a new government is in place.
Ukraine said Monday that it needs $35 billion in foreign assistance by the end of 2015 to stay afloat following the ousting of President Victor Yanukovych. An international donor's conference was urged as a way to organize that aid.
Yanukovych fled the capital after his government melted away following a bloody crackdown on anti-government demonstrators in Kiev in which at least 77 people were killed and 577 injured.
Those demonstrations were fueled by Yanukovych's lean toward Moscow, rather than the West, for trade and financial help to end a lingering economic crisis.
Now, “the Ukraine economy is heading into the abyss,” warned the finance minister on Sunday.
The Obama administration, without giving precise numbers, said it was ready to pitch in along with others to help Ukraine.
“The United States, working with partners around the world, stands ready to provide support for Ukraine as it takes the reforms it needs to, to get back to economic stability,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday.
Carney said such financial assistance could boost reforms and allow Ukraine to invest more in health and education to “help develop Ukraine's human capital and strengthen its social safety net.”
In another development, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew spoke with Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk about international support for a financial assistance package earlier on Monday.
According to a Treasury statement, Lew then spoke with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde about that conversation. Lew and Lagarde agreed if a new “fully established” Ukrainian government makes a request, “the IMF would provide the best foundation for economic advice and financing.”