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IMF approves US$17.5b lifeline for Ukraine

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The International Monetary Fund approved Wednesday a US$17.5 billion aid plan for crisis-wracked Ukraine, whose economy is reeling from a pro-Russia insurgency in its industrial heartland.

[WASHINGTON] The International Monetary Fund approved Wednesday a US$17.5 billion aid plan for crisis-wracked Ukraine, whose economy is reeling from a pro-Russia insurgency in its industrial heartland.

The four-year financial aid program replaces an existing IMF program, less than a year old, that proved inadequate to stabilise Ukraine's finances as the country fights the insurgency in the east.

"This new four-year extended arrangement will support immediate economic stabilization in Ukraine and a set of deep and wide-ranging policy reforms aimed at restoring robust growth over the medium term and improving living standards for the Ukrainian people," said IMF managing director Christine Lagarde in a statement.

Five billion dollars will be disbursed immediately, the global lender said.

The new program is better-suited to the more protracted nature of Ukraine's balance-of-payments needs, providing more time, more flexibility and better financing terms, Ms Lagarde said.

Unveiled by Ms Lagarde in early February, after the IMF reached a preliminary agreement with Ukrainian authorities in exchange for economic reforms, the IMF aid was to be part of about US$40 billion in assistance from the international community.

The IMF statement said the new loan is "based on a comprehensive economic reform programme supported by the Fund as well as by additional resources from the international community."

AFP