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EU gives Ukraine EUR 250m in aid

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(BRUSSELS) - The EU announced Tuesday payment of 250 million euros ($267 million) in aid loans to Ukraine, bringing the total to 1.6 billion euros to support the economy battered by a war against pro-Russian rebels in the east.

The European Union promised Ukraine political and economic support in exchange for reforms as part of an Association Accord sealed last year which sparked the conflict and was bitterly opposed by Russia.

The aid payment comes ahead of an EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev on Monday which will highlight those ties.

"The objective of the macro-financial assistance is to address Ukraine's urgent financing needs, while supporting Ukraine's economic stabilisation and reform agenda," the European Commission said in a statement.

"This MFA operation in Ukraine has supported in particular reforms in the areas of public finance management and anti-corruption, trade and taxation, the energy sector and the financial sector," it added.

"Europe stands together with Ukraine during these difficult times, both politically and financially," EU Commissioner for the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis said.

The 28-nation EU, which includes several east European states once ruled like Ukraine from Moscow, agreed in January an additional aid programme worth 1.8 billion euros as the economy teetered on the brink.

The EU and international lenders have backed Kiev since pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014 after he ditched the EU Association Agreement.

Since then, more than 6,000 people have died in the east where a ceasefire brokered by France and Germany in February has reduced but not completely halted the fighting.

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