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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Seeks More U.S. Aid To Combat Economic Plight

KIEV -- Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko said Wednesday that Ukraine, already the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, wanted even more from Washington this year.

"We are not talking to [the Americans] about reducing aid next year. In fact, we are asking about increasing it for this year," Udovenko told reporters after talks with Strobe Talbott, U.S. deputy secretary of state.

"But [in the U.S] it's not up to executive power but to legislators," Udovenko conceded. "The request is being studied. Congress has allocated Ukraine the biggest share of aid to CIS countries. We have yet to spend this money, but we are still seeking more."

Ukraine's allocation of $225 million in U.S. aid this year is behind only Israel and Egypt. It has received about $900 million since independence in 1991, including funds to help complete the process of getting rid of former-Soviet nuclear weapons.

Ukraine's relations with Washington were strained in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse over Kiev's share of the former-Soviet nuclear arsenal, but they have since been free of many strategic problems plaguing U.S.-Russian ties.

Last week, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma asked U.S. President Bill Clinton, and other Western leaders and financial institutions, to extend soft credits to help Ukraine cope with a huge backlog in unpaid wages.

Several top officials, including the chairman of the central bank, flew to Washington in advance of an International Monetary Fund decision later this month on extending the latest tranche of an $867 million standby credit.

Udovenko denied that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's re-election victory against a Communist challenger would draw U.S. attention away from Ukraine.

"I don't think Ukraine will attract less American attention after the Russian election," he said. "Ukraine has already become a part of U.S. policy. At the same time Russia is also part of our strategy."