European finance ministers at G20 back $15.5 billion IMF program for Ukraine-Le Maire

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a news conference on outskirts of Bengaluru

By David Lawder

BENGALURU (Reuters) - European finance chiefs have endorsed a $15.5 billion International Monetary Fund loan program for Ukraine to shore up its economy as it battles a Russian invasion now in its second year, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of a contentious G20 finance leaders meeting near the Indian tech capital of Bengaluru, Le Maire said that European counterparts at the meetings affirmed "total determination" to adopt new sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.

"Our sanctions are strong, our sanctions are efficient, they are hitting and reducing the oil revenues of Russia, they are freezing $58 billion of Russian assets," Le Maire said.

He said the sanctions were "disorganizing" Russia's economy

"We also affirmed at the European level our financial support to Ukraine, and we decided a new IMF program, as you know, of $15.5 billion," Le Maire said.

A spokesperson for Le Maire said the figure, which roughly corresponds to a $15 billion IMF loan request from Ukraine, needed to be confirmed in negotiations between the IMF and Ukraine, which Le Maire hopes can be concluded before the end of March.

An IMF spokesperson said in response to Le Maire's remarks that the Fund "expects our financial support under a fully fledged program to be sizeable," based on Ukraine's performance under an economic policy monitoring arrangement.

But details of the program, including policies and the financing amount, will be discussed between IMF staff and Ukrainian authorities, and then considered by the Fund's executive board, the spokesperson said.

(Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by William Maclean)