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Ukraine finance minister: Why we can end corruption

Ukraine can stamp out corruption in its economy because the country is committed to reform, Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said Friday.

"The Ukrainian nation has never been this united in its desire to seek a European future, one that's based on transparency, on these kinds of values," Jaresko said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "There's no room for half measures any more. ... You can't be half pregnant with reform."

The country is in the midst of a war with pro-Russian rebels and has sought to strengthen ties with Europe following a popular uprising that brought an end to the presidency of its Kremlin-backed leader last year.

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There is enormous pressure on Ukraine's government to end the corruption that plagued the rule of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, she said.

Jaresko said Kiev has initiated a number of policy initiatives that will change the way the country does business, including electronic procurement and reforming state-owned enterprises to make them more transparent.

Ukraine has also cut out intermediaries in its gas trade, which acted as middle men for more than two decades and were responsible for skimming hundreds of millions dollars.

It has also passed laws to ban related-party lending, or loans that are made by institutions with special relationships.

"We've had banks fail because bank owners and related parties to the bank owners have in essence through fraud, through mismanagement, through criminal activity, cause these banks to fail, and they ought to be held to account," Jaresko said.

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The U.S.-born Jaresko is in the United States this week to meet discuss the terms of a restructuring Ukrainian debt. The International Monetary Fund has asked Ukraine to request $15 billion in debt reductions from current creditors as part of a larger bailout package.

"I think most of our creditors understand that this type of deal is the only thing that will bring us back to some form of debt sustainability and that it's in all of our interests together," she said.

The IMF estimates Ukraine's economy contracted 6.9 percent last year amid the war. It believes the country needs at least $40 billion in bailout funds to support its currency and service its debt.

The IMF last week approved a $17.5 billion loan to Ukraine.

Inflation reached 24.9 percent by the end of 2014 as the value of the Ukrainian hryvnia plunged and energy prices surged.

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Jaresko told debt holders the bailout package is sufficient to stabilize Ukraine, but it will not be enough to help it grow and rebuild its economy. The receipt of the first tranche of the IMF loan doubled its reserves to roughly $10 billion, she said.

Ukraine has asked all of its creditors to participate in a restructuring, including Russia, which holds about $3 billion of its debt, Jaresko said.

The country does not have the option of paying off Russia ahead of other investors because its capital reserves remain low, she added. Ukraine has not had any backchannel discussions with Russia regarding repayments, she said.

As for whether the United States should provide Ukraine with weapons, she said Ukrainians have demonstrated they deserve military support.

"I do believe the Ukrainian people have shown, number one, through free and fair elections, over and over, most recently presidential and parliamentary, that they have given their lives, they have sacrificed everything, over and over, for the principles of democracy, of sovereignty, of territorial integrity, and all they're asking for is the world's support," she said.

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She noted that Ukrainians have suffered 6,000 deaths and 15,000 injuries in the conflict, and that 1.1 million citizens have been internally displaced.

"The world goes into many, many situations where the people don't show themselves to be ready and are willing to accept these principles, these values that we hold dearly in the free world. The Ukrainian people have shown it for years now, and for the past year, in a very costly way," she said.

—CNBC's Katie Kramer contributed reporting to this story.

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