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IMF Expected To Approve Fresh Ukraine Bailout

The board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is widely expected to approve a fresh $17.5 billion loan program for Ukraine when it meets on March 11.

The Ukrainian economy -- forecast to contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 -- has suffered in the past year as government forces fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and trade with Russia has almost ceased.

Last week, Ukrainian lawmakers passed austerity measures, including pension cuts and tax increases, intended to help secure the fresh IMF bailout package.

Kyiv hopes to receive up to $11 billion this year to boost its international reserves, which are at their lowest level in more than a decade.

President Petro Poroshenko this week called on the country to "look truth in the eye" and stay united.

"As long as there is war there will be no investment in Ukraine, and people must be told the truth," he said in an interview on March 9.

Based on reporting by AFP and The Wall Street Journal