Ukraine needs International Monetary Fund assistance amid the current uncertainty on the world financial markets, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday.

The Fund's support is very important for us amid the uncertainty on the world markets and times of crisis, Azarov said.

Azarov's made his comments as an IMF mission started its work in Kiev on Tuesday.

In December, Azarov said Ukraine did not need a second IMF tranche because the financial situation in the country was stable.

Meanwhile, he praised the Fund's decision to release the tranche saying it signaled a positive assessment of the government's policies.

Last July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $15.15-billion standby loan for Ukraine in support of the authorities' economic adjustment and reform program following a request from Kiev.

Ukraine received the first $1.89 billion tranche from the IMF later in July. In late December, the IMF decided to release the second $1.5 billion tranche for Ukraine, saying Kiev had managed to fulfill most of the main conditions set by the Fund.

The organization demanded Kiev increase gas prices for local consumers and cut its budget deficit and carry out unpopular pension reforms, which would raise the retirement age in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian premier said in late January the pension reform will be launched in March, after the parliament approves the bill. Utility prices are to be raised by 50% from April 1.