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IMF Approves $17.5 Billion Loan Program For Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $17.5 billion bailout of Ukraine.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on March 11, the new four-year aid program "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."

Earlier on March 11, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said her country expects to receive $5 billion in credit from the IMF in the coming days to boost its international reserves, which are at their lowest level in more than a decade.

The Ukrainian economy is forecast to contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 as government forces fight pro-Russian separatists in the country's east 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.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters