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By Denis Dyomkin and Lidia Kelly
BELEK, Turkey, Nov 16 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Monday Russia had made a surprise offer to restructure Ukraine’s debt, telling Kiev it would accept an annual debt repayment of $1 billion over three years if the West provided guarantees.
Russia has until now refused to restructure the $3 billion Eurobond on Ukraine’s terms, saying the debt cannot be considered commercial. It has threatened to take Ukraine to court if it fails to repay the bond in full and on time next month.
But Putin, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Turkey’s Antalya, said Russia had made Ukraine an offer that was “better” than what the International Monetary Fund had been suggesting.
Moscow had made the proposal to try to ensure full repayment and “not to put Ukraine in a difficult situation,” said Putin, adding he had asked Western partners and the IMF itself to guarantee debt repayment.
“If the West cannot give a guarantee, it means they do not believe in the future of the Ukrainian economy,” Putin said, adding that the matter should be decided by December.
He said he had held talks “in passing” with U.S. President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the debt deal on Monday.
“The proposal was received with interest,” Putin said.
Ukraine’s finance ministry said on Monday it had not received “any direct information” on an offer by Putin. (Additional reporting in Kiev by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Jack Stubbs and Andrew Osborn)