Ukraine`s parliament must approve a 16.5-billion- dollar assistance package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or the former Soviet republic will face default, the country`s national bank head said Tuesday, DPA reported.

Volodymyr Stelmakh, chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), said Kyiv desperately needs the low-cost loan, as without it the NBU `almost certainly` would be unable to honour Ukraine`s foreign debts.

According to him, Ukraine will got into the list countries with a high probability of default – Iceland, Argentina, and Pakistan.

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Stelmakh`s statement, made at a Kyiv press conference, was Ukraine`s clearest warning yet that the world financial crisis had left the country short of cash and on the edge of default on bonds sold in international markets.