08/29/2014, 00.00
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Military escalation in eastern Ukraine and the dollar-ruble oil war

The United States, France and Germany slam "incursions" by Russian soldiers, threaten new sanctions. Some Baltic countries speak of a real Russian "invasion" of the Ukraine. Gazprom sells first oil shipments in rubles, even in Europe, plans to sell in yuan as well.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More charges have been levelled at Russia for its military "incursions" in Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian rebels. This comes at a time when Moscow is implementing its decision to accept rubles as payment for oil.

NATO satellite photos led the United States and European countries to criticise Russia for sending, according to NATO, at least a thousand soldiers to fight in the regions of eastern Ukraine. US President said that Moscow "has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of its neighbour.

For some countries, like Latvia and Lithuania, this is a real "war" and Russia's actions are a real "invasion". For Obama, and the leaders of France and Germany, these "incursions" must still be met with firmness and new sanctions.

Alexander Zakharchenko, premier of the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk, said that Russian volunteers are soldiers on their holiday.

Pro-Russian separatists have widened the war conquering other cities besides Donetsk and Luhansk, including the coastal town of Novoazovsk.

This raises fears that the Kremlin wants to create a corridor between Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which it seized in March.

Advances by separatists have left pockets of encircled Ukrainian government troops.

Putin today urged pro-Russian rebels to open a humanitarian corridor to allow them to escape to avoid unnecessary loss of lives.

Rising tensions in Ukraine parallels another "war", that against the dollar. Russia will now accept payment for its oil in rubles (and yuan).

According to Russia's RIA Novosti, Gazprom Neft agreed to accept payment in rubles for 80,000 tonnes of oil from its Novoportovskoye field in the Arctic. It will also deliver oil via the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO), accepting payment in yuan.

Moscow will accept that its energy exports to Europe or China will be paid in either rubles or yuan, moving completely away from the US dollar.

Announced months ago, the decision is only now becoming operational.

Last week, Russia began to ship oil from the Novoportovskoye field to Europe by sea. Two oil tankers are expected to arrive in Europe in September.

According to Russian media, the payment for these shipments will be in rubles.

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