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The Obama administration is calculating how much aid it should send to the new regime in Ukraine, on top of the nearly $4 billion which the United States has provided since the country won independence nearly 25 years ago with the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Last week Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ukraine’s sovereign debt and the new government faces a potential debt crisis as it tries to establish its authority after the toppling of Victor Yanukovich.
Ukraine had banked on $15 billion in aid from Russia, but that money is in doubt with tensions between Ukraine and Russia now running high and Russian military exercises causing jitters.
After warning the Russia to “avoid provocative actions,” White House spokesman Jay Carney offered few specifics on aid Thursday.
“We are continuing to consider a range of options… including loan guarantees,” Carney told reporters. He said the administration was “stands ready to support and provide support for Ukraine, as it takes the necessary reforms to get back to economic stability.” The reforms -- which the International Monetary Fund has sought for years -- include ending subsidized energy prices for consumers.
Later Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “Right now we’re consulting with Congress about providing loan guarantees and other assistance to Ukraine. No specific package has yet been finalized.”
A State Department official said officials are trying to figure out whether the administration can use funding it already has or whether it will need a new appropriation from Congress, but the official noted there is support for Ukraine in Congress.
In the fiscal year that ended last September, the United States sent about $95 million in aid to Ukraine. Part of that aid went to finishing the construction of a containment structure over the damaged nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl facility, where a catastrophic accident took place in 1986.
NBC's Catherine Chomiak contributed to this report