Rouble falls again as Nato accuses Russia of a “blatant violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty
The rouble continued to drop today as tensions in Ukraine continued. The currency fell 0.98 per cent against the euro and as much as 0.4 per cent against the dollar, a record intraday low, as Moscow's equities index, the Micex, fell 1.62 per cent.
The losses came as Nato accused Russia of a "blatant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty, as the country's state television reported Russian troops – fighting alongside rebels – had advanced to within 20km of Mariupol, a strategic town on the Azov Sea.
Although Ukrainian government forces are said to be standing their ground, a defeat would be seen as a major blow. Ukraine has been using the city's airport as a base to support its campaign.
Nato's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said it had become "clear" that, despite "hollow denials", Russian troops had crossed the Ukrainian border.
This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilise Ukraine as a sovereign nation. This is a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution.