Oil prices soared to levels not seen in eight years, trading was suspended on the Moscow Stock Exchange, and the rouble plummeted to a record low against the dollar after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Starting from around 3am UK time, attacks were reported across Ukraine, including in several western cities, close to the border with Poland.
The price of Brent crude oil had jumped by 5.6 per cent by a little after 7am UK time to 102.30 dollars per barrel, hitting its highest point since 2014.
Around the same time the rouble tanked. The US dollar gained more than 10 per cent against the Russian currency at one point.
Moscow Stock Exchange
Early in the morning the Moscow Stock Exchange said it had “suspended trading on all of its markets until further notice”.
But it later restarted at 10am local time, 7am in the UK.
Trading will not open in much of Europe, including London, until 8am; however the euro has already dropped 0.6 per cent against the dollar and the pound has fallen 0.5 per cent against the dollar.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday morning that he had spoken to the leaders of the US, Germany, the EU, Poland and the UK.
He said he had “urged to stop Putin, war against (Ukraine) and the world immediately. Building an anti-Putin coalition. Immediate sanctions, defence and financial support to (Ukraine). Close the airspace. The world must force (Russia) into peace.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine has closed its airspace “due to the high risk of aviation security for civil aviation”.
The nation’s State Air Traffic Services Enterprise announced the closure shortly before 1am GMT. A statement read: “The provision of air traffic services to civilian users of the airspace of Ukraine is suspended.”
Data from Flightradar24 at 6.30am GMT shows no civil aircraft in Ukrainian airspace, and very few in Belarus – where many Russian military forces are gathered.
Grant Shapps also advised airlines to avoid Ukrainian airspace “following the horrific events overnight”.
The transport secretary tweeted: “I’ve instructed UK-CAA (the Civil Aviation Authority) to ensure airlines avoid Ukraine airspace to keep passengers and crew safe.
“We continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and work with our international partners to respond to this act of aggression.”