Russia is helping Ukrainian rebels sell coal on international markets to raise much-needed cash for pensions and social needs, evading a blockade imposed by the government in Kiev as efforts to implement a peace deal remain stalled.
The separatists are sending nearly 1 million tons of coal per month to Russia across their shared border as of August, boosting income to support the 4 million inhabitants of the breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions, Russian Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Nazarov said. Russia re-exports the coal to third countries via its sea ports, he said in an interview, confirming Ukrainian accusations that it’s fostering trade links for the rebels.
“They’re solving all their issues with social infrastructure, budget and pensions now,” said Nazarov, who was placed on the sanctions list in June by the U.S. Treasury, which said he oversees “projects in the transportation, trade, energy, tax and financial sectors” for the pro-Russian separatists.
Russia and …