BRUSSELS -- The International Monetary Fund says it is "ready to respond" to Ukraine's bid for financial assistance.
In the IMF's first official statement on Ukraine since the country's political crisis intensified, chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday that a fact-finding team will be sent to Kiev in the coming days.
Lagarde says the mission will enable the fund to make an independent assessment of the economic situation and start discussing with the Ukrainian authorities which policy reforms would be required in exchange for an emergency loan program.
She says the fund is also in intense talks with its partners on "how best to help Ukraine at this critical moment in its history."
Ukraine's finance ministry has said it needs $35 billion for this year and next to avoid default.