It has again taken Ukraine many months to break down the domestic opposition of vested interests in order to qualify for much-needed international assistance. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently signed into law two key bills: one aimed at turning farmland into a sellable commodity, and the other to prevent owners of failed banks that had to be nationalized from being able to reclaim them. Having finally pushed through these important prerequisite reforms, he now expects to receive much-needed billions of dollars in loans from international financial institutions to help Ukraine fill the budget gap that opened up as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced, on May 22, that a staff-level agreement was reached with Kyiv on a $5 billion stand-by arrangement to help Ukraine overcome the economic shock stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic (Imf.org, May 21). The agreement is now subject to approval by the IMF board, after which Ukraine’s central bank (the National Bank of Ukraine, or NBU) expects an additional $3 billion in assistance from the European Union, the World Bank and the governments of Canada and Japan (BBC News, Ukrainian service, May 16). The EU, in particular, is expected to lend 1.2 billion euros ($1.32 billion U.S.) (Mof.gov.ua, April 22).