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Ukraine: running out of money

Funding promised by the International Monetary Fund has not yet been released.

By Ed Adamczyk
Ukraine: running out of money
Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko (CC/ U.S. Embassy, Kiev, Ukraine)

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Ukraine, fast running out of cash, is awaiting the release of promised international financial aid of $40 billion to pay its bills.

There are fears the country, in conflict with pro-Russian separatists over its eastern territory and directly with Russia over payments for the natural gas it imports, is near bankruptcy and reliant on the International Monetary Fund for rescue. The IMF pledged $17 billion, earlier in February, but the funding has not yet been released.

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"This is a very serious financial crisis there's no question, and we're looking forward to the IMF board meeting and the IMF first tranche (of aid) because it's a critical time," Ukrainian finance minister Natalie Jaresko, finance minister, told CNBC Wednesday. "We've worked very quickly over the last two months to come to a program of Ukrainian reforms so I believe we will be doing everything we need to do to ensure that money does come, and comes as soon as possible."

Tuesday Jaresko said Ukraine was looking only at a 12- to 15-month program.

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We are not discussing our financial needs for a three or four year program, we are really focused on 12 to 15 months right now. "The numbers I can give you right now are the estimates that you see in the press," a reference to a figure of about $15 billion more from the IMF. "Now we are in the process of discussing that further."

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As part of accepting $17 billion in bailout loans in early 2014, payable within two years, Ukraine agreed to austerity measures which included an increase in taxes, the withdrawal of subsidies on natural gas and the abolition of 24,000 government jobs.

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