Ukraine requests IMF help in crisis - IMF chief Lagarde

Thursday 27 February 2014 15.00
IMF set to send a mission to Kiev
IMF set to send a mission to Kiev

Ukraine has asked the International Monetary Fund to support its battered finances and the world body will send a mission to Kiev, its managing director Christine Lagarde said today.

Ukraine is struggling to emerge from a bloody political crisis and is suffering from Russia's decision to freeze a $15 billion dollar bailout package after a first $3 billion tranche was used up.

Western powers have begun to pledge support and loan guarantees to prop up a new interim government that took charge after pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was deposed.

Now, the IMF - the world's lender of last resort - has agreed to play a role.

"We are ready to respond and, in the coming days, will send an IMF fact-finding team to Kiev to undertake a preliminary dialogue with the authorities," Lagarde said.

Lagarde said the mission would assess the economic situation in Ukraine as well as begin discussions on "the policy reforms that could form the basis of a Fund-supported program. 

"We are also discussing with all our international partners - bilateral and multilateral - how best to help Ukraine at this critical moment in its history," she said. 

"In that regard, we are encouraged by the many statements of support that have been expressed," the IMF chief added.

Kiev has requested as much as $35 billion in Western help and owes $13 billion in state debt payments this year, a massive sum in a country where state reserves have shrunk less than $18 billion.

Concerns over what would be a catastrophic default saw the local currency take a 9.6% plunge to a record low of 11.5 hryvnias against the dollar today.