Russian stocks and currency are retreating amid geopolitical uncertainty
The Russian stock market dropped more than 4% following two weeks of steady decline, while the national currency fell to its weakest in more than a year to 78 rubles against the US dollar.
The plunge comes amid mounting geopolitical tensions stemming from claims that Russia is planning to attack Ukraine, actively spread by EU and US officials and fueled by major Western media outlets.
"We expect Russian equities to extend losses today due to an escalation in geopolitical tensions over the weekend," analysts at Alfa Bank said, as quoted by AFP.
Renaissance Capital reportedly said in a note to clients that the ruble could fall by up to 20% to the dollar in the event of a military escalation.
The Central Bank of Russia announced on Monday that it plans to suspend foreign exchange purchases under fiscal rules to reduce pressure on the ruble. The regulator also said it has all the necessary tools to reduce threats of financial instability.
Western officials were expected to meet on Monday to try and coordinate retaliation measures and discuss new anti-Russian sanctions that should be imminently introduced if Moscow launches a military assault on Ukraine.
Media reports claim Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, with some Western officials believing that a military incursion is around the corner.
Britain and the US have ordered some staff to return home from their embassies in Ukraine with their families.
Russian authorities have repeatedly rejected accusations that Moscow is planning an invasion of Ukraine, which have been voiced by Washington and its allies since November last year, describing the claims as groundless attempts to instill "hysteria."
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