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  Monday, October 21, 2019
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Political unrest in Ukraine might have negative implications for its relations with Russia
Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin warned that the ongoing political unrest in Ukraine might have negative implications for its relations with Russia. But he remains hopeful this will not be the case, he said. "I would like to hope that all our agreements and contracts with companies in Ukraine will not suffer in these days of trouble," Mr. Kudrin told reporters Wednesday. But he made a reservation that if the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate further, it is quite likely that the relations will worsen, as they depend in no small measure on political stability. As he spoke at a plenary session in the State Duma (Russia's lower house of parliament) during deliberations on the 2005 draft budget, the Finance Minister said that next year, Russia would continue repaying the commercial debt it inherited from the former Soviet Union. "Part of the debt has been settled and paid off, and the remainder is now being verified," Mr. Kudrin said as he was commenting on MPs' proposal to remove the Soviet debt from the expenditures section of next year's federal budget. "This is the former Soviet Union's debt, which we are obliged to settle; there is no way we can evade it," Mr. Kudrin said. He reminded to the State Duma that debt repayment allocations are allowed for in the federal budget every year. He also said that as it supported the decision by the Paris Club to forgive to Iraq 80% of its debt, Russia has every reason to expect greater understanding from the other creditor nations as far as the settlement of its own debts goes. "If we behave in a civilized way as a Paris Club creditor nation, we may hope for understanding when it comes to the repayment of our own debts," the minister pointed out. Earlier, Mr. Kudrin said that Russia was going to negotiate with the Paris Club the possibility of converting its debt into equity. The minister reminded his audience that at the talks on Iraq's debt, Russia had been sticking to a rather tough line until the last moment. As one of Iraq's major creditors, Russia was gauging that country's paying capacity and its prospects for stabilization. "We want the decision to be effective and work to restore [Iraq's] paying capacity and stability in the region," he said. The Russian side hopes that its contracts with Iraqi companies will be extended and that it will be able to take part in the development of Iraqi oil deposits, the minister said in conclusion.
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