A massive attack by Russian forces targeted military infrastructure throughout Ukraine as well as several airports. The offensive began hours before dawn and quickly spread to central and eastern Ukraine as Russian forces attacked from three sides. Putin warned of bloodshed unless Ukrainian forces lay down their arms.
The Moscow Stock Exchange had halted trading earlier on Thursday, but when trading resumed, shares fell.
The MOEX is down 45%, while the RTS – denominated in dollars – is down more than 40% at 4.15 AM ET. The collapse wiped out $75 billion of the value of Russia’s largest companies.
The ruble was trading at 85 against the dollar, down 4%, after earlier hitting a new record low of 89.60. The Russian Central Bank said that it will intervene in the currency market and provide additional liquidity to the banking sector.
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other allies announced limited new sanctions against Russia earlier this week after Moscow said it would send troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Germany has said it will suspend certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
US, EU and UK officials have made clear that stricter measures will be followed in the event of an invasion by Russia.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock said Thursday that the European Union is determined to launch a “full package of sanctions” against Russia, adding that the world must respond firmly or risk paying a higher price.
“We woke up in a different world today,” Barbock told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. “We will launch the full package of collective sanctions against Russia.”
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have called for Russia to be taken out of SWIFT, the secure messaging services that facilitate payments between 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries.
“The entire international community must strongly condemn Russia’s aggression and impose the strongest possible sanctions in response to such outrageous acts, including the separation of Russian banks from the Association for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT),” the three countries’ foreign ministers said in a statement. joint statement.
Swift said in a statement that it is a “global, impartial cooperative” and “any decision to sanction countries or individual entities rests solely with the appropriate government agencies and appropriate legislators.”
Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin estimated in 2014 that excluding Russia from the SWIFT system would shrink its economy by 5% – the last time this punishment was considered in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Reuters reported that Sberbank said it was ready for any developments and worked through scenarios to ensure the protection of clients’ money, assets and interests.
Charles Riley contributed to the report.