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Hague pledges our cash to Kiev regime

Labour's Alexander flies to meet right-wing coup government

Foreign Secretary William Hague admitted yesterday that Britain would pump money into a huge operation to shore up the shaky new anti-Russian regime in Ukraine.

Mr Hague revealed that a British team was already in the Ukrainian capital Kiev to organise technical assistance and support, including "reforms" to the investment climate and labour market.

Labour MP Dennis Skinner complained that taxpayers were being asked to hand over money to Ukraine from "an austerity-riddled Britain."

But Mr Hague insisted that British spending would be "small in the scheme of things."

He told MPs that the International Monetary Fund would be "at the front and centre" of assistance, and the EU would also provide "significant support."

Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander praised Mr Hague for his visit to Kiev on Monday to meet members of the new regime, which is riddled with extreme rightwingers.

Mr Alexander cited estimates that Ukraine would need £21 billion in support over the next two years "in order to avoid economic collapse."

Left MP Jeremy Corbyn complained that part of the problem in the region was Nato's ambition to expand further and further eastward.

He urged a de-escalation of Nato's presence on the borders of Russia.

At the same time, he declared that "incursion of any foreign troops into Ukraine is wrong and could lead to further war and destabilisation."

Mr Hague retorted that Russia's action was hardly designed to reduce Nato's presence.

On the contrary, countries bordering Russia "will be anxious to have a closer Nato presence in future," he argued.

But he denied that Ukraine was about to join Nato and emphasised that "we are not planning another Crimean war."

The options "do not include going to the armed defence of Ukraine," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron will join other EU leaders at a crisis summit in Brussels tomorrow.

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