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Ukrainian president visits frontline city of Bakhmut

In this handout picture taken and released on Dec 20, 2022 by the Ukrainian Presidential press services, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) hands out the State Award to a soldier during a medal giving ceremony to Ukrainian servicemen who have been holding back a Russian military campaign for the city, as part of Zelensky's visit in the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut. (STRINGER / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)

KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday visited the frontline city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, the presidential press service reported.

During his working visit, Zelensky met with personnel of a mechanized brigade involved in the confrontation with Russian forces on the approaches to the city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also awarded troops from the mechanized, motorized infantry, mountain assault, tank, artillery and airmobile units with state awards

Zelensky listened to the commander's report on the operational situation on the frontline and thanked the Ukrainian military for their courage, resilience and strength demonstrated during the fighting.

The Ukrainian president also awarded troops from the mechanized, motorized infantry, mountain assault, tank, artillery and airmobile units with state awards.

In recent weeks, Bakhmut has been the epicenter of the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops.

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The logo of the International Monetary Fund is displayed outside its headquarters in Washington, DC, on Oct 8, 2022. (STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP)

IMF's support for Ukraine

Separately, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a new program for Ukraine to support its macroeconomic and financial stability and catalyze donor financing, the National Bank of Ukraine said Tuesday.

The IMF's new program for Ukraine is aimed at mobilizing state budget revenues, strengthening the financial sector, and improving management transparency and effectiveness for state-owned enterprises

The four-month Program Monitoring with Board Involvement does not directly provide financial assistance, but creates instruments for transitioning to a new, long-term Upper-Credit Tranche program of the IMF, the bank said in a statement.

The program is aimed at mobilizing state budget revenues, strengthening the financial sector, and improving management transparency and effectiveness for state-owned enterprises.

"Ukraine hopes that the approval of the program will provide our partners with confidence and optimal conditions to ensure sufficiently rhythmic financial inflows amid high needs of the balance of payments and the state budget," Andriy Pyshnyy, the bank's governor, was quoted as saying in the statement.

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This handout picture taken and released by the Turkish Defense Ministry press office on Aug 3, 2022 shows an inspection delegation member inspecting the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine, off the coast of north-west Istanbul. (TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTRY / AFP)

Reduce grain planting areas by 22 percent

In another development, Ukraine will reduce the grain planting areas by 22 percent next year to 8.7 million hectares, the UBN media outlet reported Monday, citing a recent forecast by an industry body.

According to the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, the decrease in the grain planting areas will result in the reduction of Ukraine's gross grain output to 34 million tons next year, 37 percent less than in 2022

At the same time, the planting areas for oil crops will increase by 32 percent to 9.7 million hectares in 2023, said the forecast by the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club.

According to the club, the decrease in the grain planting areas will result in the reduction of Ukraine's gross grain output to 34 million tons next year, 37 percent less than in 2022.

Ukraine's grain and oilseeds exports are expected to stand at 35 million tons in 2023, the forecast said.

In 2021, Ukraine harvested a record yield of grain, legumes and oilseeds, totaling more than 106 million tons.

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In the 2021-2022 marketing year, between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, the Eastern European country exported 85 million tons of cereals and oilseeds.