The widespread attack by Russian forces targeted military infrastructure and several airports throughout Ukraine. As Russian forces attacked from all three sides, the offensive began just hours before dawn and spread rapidly throughout central and eastern Ukraine. Putin warned that there would be bloodshed if Ukrainian forces did not lay down their arms.
The Moscow Stock Exchange suspended trading on Thursday, but when the deal resumed, the shares went into a free fall.
The MOEX index fell 33% to 45% before trading, while the dollar-denominated RTS index fell 38% to 8:25 ET. The crash destroyed about $ 70 billion from the value of Russia’s largest companies.
Russia’s central bank said in a statement that it had instructed brokers to suspend short sales “in order to protect the current situation in the financial markets and the rights and legitimate interests of investors”. That means they cannot borrow to sell the securities in anticipation of a repurchase at a lower price. The order went into effect at 11:00 a.m. local time.
The ruble traded at 84 against the dollar, down 3% after previously reaching a new high of 89.60. Russia’s central bank has said it will intervene in the currency market and provide more liquidity to the banking sector.
“This emotional reaction is inevitable, but at the same time it will be confirmed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call to foreign journalists about the market turmoil. He added that all necessary steps have been taken for this.
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other allies announced earlier this week limited new sanctions on Russia, with Moscow saying it would send troops to two dividing areas in eastern Ukraine. Germany suspends certification for controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
US, EU and UK officials have made it clear that more drastic measures will be taken if Russia invades.
On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbach said the EU was about to unleash “full sanctions” on Russia, and that the world must respond decisively or run the risk of paying even higher prices.
“We woke up in a different world today,” he told reporters in Berlin. “We will begin the whole set of massive sanctions against Russia,” he said.
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have called on Russia to expel SWIFT, a secure messaging service that facilitates payment to 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries.
The three countries called on the international community to “strongly condemn Russia’s aggression and impose tough sanctions in response to such outrageous acts, including the severance of Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT).” Joint Report.
In a statement, Swift said it was a “neutral global cooperative” and that “any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with competent government agencies and compatible legislators.”
Russia’s exclusion from the SWIFT would shrink its economy by 5%, estimates former finance minister Alexei Goodrin in 2014 – the last time the permit was considered in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Reuters reports that Sberbank has said it is ready for any improvement and has acted through scenarios to guarantee the protection of its customers’ finances, assets and interests.
– Charles Riley contributed to the report.