February 10, 2017 / 12:12 PM / a year ago

INTERVIEW-Ukraine PM sees IMF deal by end-Feb amid new fighting in east

(Updates with quotes, details)

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Kiev expects to reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund by the end of the month to allow the next tranche of aid, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on Friday, and blamed Russia for renewed fighting flared in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking after the biggest surge in violence in Ukraine’s industrial east for more than a year, Groysman also called on new U.S. President Donald Trump to provide “defensive weapons” to Ukraine to bring Moscow back into peace talks.

“We have practically completed negotiations (with the IMF) and only a few nuances remain,” he said of talks with the global lender to unlock the latest series of loans under Ukraine’s $17.5 billion bailout by the end of the month.

Groysman said Kiev intends to cooperate with the Washington-based lender but that the IMF needed to have “realistic” expectations on what Ukraine could achieve in terms of judicial reforms that are holding up talks.

“It’s important that all the conditions ... have realistic deadlines,” he told Reuters during a two-day visit to Brussels where he met officials from the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. (Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)

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