IMF talks resume in Ukraine as George Soros urges $50bn aid package
A Ukrainian serviceman walks on armoured personnel carriers (APC) during a ceremony to hand over weapons, military equipment and aircraft to the army at a firing range outside Zhytomyr on 5 JanuaryReuters

An IMF team has resumed talks in Kiev that the Ukrainian government hopes will lead to a bigger aid package, just as billionaire financier George Soros urged the West to step up funding to the embattled country.

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) existing bailout package is worth $17.1bn (£11.3bn, €14.4bn) but the Fund says $15bn more is needed.

Kiev, which is managing an economy that has been pushed close to bankruptcy by a pro-Russian separatist war in the east and now facing huge debt repayments, is eager for the package to be bumped up.

Ukraine's forex reserves at just under $10bn are barely enough to cover two months of imports. In addition, $7.3bn of external debt repayments fall due this year, Reuters reported.

Earlier, Hungarian-born hedge fund manager George Soros called on the West to boost its aid, listing steps towards a $50bn financing package he said should be viewed as a safeguard against an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Soros identified the European Investment Bank, World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and an expanded IMF programme as sources of cash.

Soros wrote: "Europe needs to wake up and recognize that it is under attack from Russia.

"Assisting Ukraine should also be considered as a defense expenditure by the European Union countries."

"The additional sources of financing I have cited should be sufficient to produce a new financial package of $50bn or more... That would be a game-changer. Ukraine would embark on radical reforms and, instead of hovering on the edge of bankruptcy, it would turn into a land of promise that would attract private investment."

In December 2014, Ukranian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said his nation risked possible default unless Western donors came up with more funds.