Feb 24, 2022 - Economy

Markets react to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

A chart falling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last night, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine during a speech. Since then, attacks have killed dozens of Ukrainian soldiers and a few civilians.

Why it matters: Putin effectively declared war on Ukraine, despite specifying that he wants to "demilitarize" the country without occupying it.

  • He also warned the rest of the world not to interfere, or it "will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history."
  • So for Ukrainians (and the rest of the world), today is not business as usual at all.

Market reactions: Even before last night's events, markets had been shifting in anticipating of escalating conflict.

  • The ruble is down, even more since last night's attacks, Russian stocks took a dive as investors braced for even more sanctions, and Moscow's stock exchange suspended trading. European banks with Russian operations also took a hit as the market opened.
  • Energy prices soared this morning, especially driven by concerns that sanctions would constrain the supply of oil and gas from Russia.
  • Bitcoin and ether are down, with more than $150 billion wiped out of the cryptocurrency market in the last 24 hours. (Actual gold, meanwhile, is up.)

Economic sanctions: The U.S., as well as the U.K., EU and other countries imposed economic sanctions throughout the week on certain Russian banks and individuals.

  • Germany halted certification for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, operated by the Russian state-owned Gazprom.
  • President Biden warned that the administration is prepared to ratchet up the sanctions, including on Russia's biggest banks, like SberBank and VTB, which collectively hold almost $750 billion in assets, more than half of Russia's total.
  • Other potential sanctions like export controls are on the table, though U.S. and European leaders also seem hesitant to impose the harshest restrictions like banning Russia from payments system SWIFT.

Private markets: There could be impacts both on Russia's and Ukraine's private capital, as investors monitor the situation.

Disinformation: Experts predicts disinformation campaigns will proliferate right now as part of Russia's warfare.

  • Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter will be on high alert, and under tons of scrutiny for how they handle this.

The bottom line: Brace yourselves.

Go deeper: Ukraine-Russia crisis latest developments

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