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Ukrainian Premier Sees US Aid Coming as Early as This Month

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s prime minister said blocked US funding could arrive as soon as this month – and that the scope of recruiting fresh troops for the front line may be fewer than the half-million initially backed by the military.

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As more than $60 billion in funding is held up by House Republicans in Washington, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal — saying Ukrainian officials are in “active dialog” with Congress members from both parties — signaled he expects positive news “this month, or maximum next month.”

At the same time, a contested draft bill calling for the conscription of younger soldiers is stalled in Ukraine’s parliament, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wary of an initial military request to draft as many as 500,000 troops. Shmyhal said an assessment showed that scale wasn’t necessary given rotations taking place on the front line and incoming weaponry.

“We will continue the fight if we will have support from our partners for artillery shells, for long and middle range missiles,” Shmyhal said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Brussels on Wednesday.

The premier lauded the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and Group of Seven allies for providing badly needed financing so far this year, allowing the budget to “survive for the first half.” Ukraine will rely on the US package for the second half of the year, he said.

Read More: Ukraine Sees Risk of Russia Breaking Through Defenses by Summer

Ukraine’s international donors need to dispatch funds promptly to ensure the government budget remains afloat, a senior IMF official said in a separate interview. The lender is expected to approve its next tranche of its funding program for Kyiv at a boarding meeting Thursday.

“For the program, it is very important that donors disburse on time, in order not to create problems for macroeconomic management on the Ukrainian side,” Alfred Kammer, director of the IMF’s European department, told Bloomberg.

Ukrainian forces are confronting a Russian offensive after a Kyiv-led counteroffensive last year ground to a halt. The Ukrainian parliament has been debating the mobilization bill for weeks as it forges a plan to draw additional reserves to replenish war-battered units.

As EU and NATO leaders debate a more hawkish position from French President Emmanuel Macron — who is pushing the prospect of potentially sending forces into Ukraine — Shmyhal said he welcomed the tougher tone from a western European capital.

“We are very glad that President Macron’s communication is much, much stronger — it’s very concrete, very clear, and this is what we all need,” the premier said.

--With assistance from Max Ramsay, Jasmina Kuzmanovic and Volodymyr Verbianyi.

(Updates with IMF comments from the fifth paragraph.)

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