Ruble rumbles, Russian market tumbles as Moscow recognizes Donbass

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Russian stocks and currency traded lower on Tuesday following President Vladimir Putin’s announcement late on Monday that Russia would “immediately” recognize the two republics in the breakaway Donbass region in Ukraine and send Russian military to the area as a peacekeeping force.

The ruble-based MOEX index opened 5.5% lower than Monday’s close, then accelerated the decline to 8.56% by 09:15 GMT. The dollar-denominated RTS index plunged 10.14%, dropping below 1,100 points for the first time since November 2020.

The national currency has fallen to a near-historic low of 80.5 rubles against the dollar and 91 rubles against the euro at the time of this writing. The last time the ruble sank this low against major global currencies was during the 2016 oil price crash.

The Bank of Russia said it was keeping a close watch on developments in the country’s financial market. The regulator said the situation was under control and it was ready to take all necessary measures to maintain stability.

Moscow’s decision to recognize the breakaway People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk was announced after they reportedly came under heavy shelling, forcing a mass evacuation of Donbass residents to nearby Russian territories over the weekend. Following President Putin’s announcement, the Ukrainian government called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on the matter.

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