Officials from the International Monetary Fund are visiting Ukraine Tuesday for talks on its $17 billion aid program -- a key step towards bringing more funds to the cash-strapped country.
The visit coincides with a so-called "Day of Silence," when both Ukrainian forces and rebels have pledged to observe an effective truce on the front line of the conflict, which has killed more than 4,300 people and nearly bankrupted the country.
The International Monetary Fund program agreed in April to shore up the ex-Soviet state's severely depleted foreign currency reserves and to support its economy, which was blighted by years of corruption and is now struggling with the extra costs of fighting the pro-Russian rebellion.
IMF officials say Ukraine may need as much as $19 billion in extra aid if the nation's struggle with pro-Russian separatists runs into next year.
The fund had been expected to pay the next loan installment off $2.7 billion by the end of this year, but waited until Kyiv could form a new government before holding talks on the payment.
The nine-day talks come as Ukraine struggles to pay its debts and resentment in the country grows over an IMF prescribed austerity drive.
The IMF agreed to the loan package in April in the weeks that followed the February ouster of Ukraine's Russian-backed president.
Last week, Ukraine's parliament elected a new government that includes several non-Ukrainian technocrats. The move was seen as a way for the government to show its commitment to reforming the country's economy.
Some information for this report from Reuters.