Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014: How world reacted and what happened to markets

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As fears Russia could invade Ukraine in 2022 intensify, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has admitted he is “not optimistic” that the Kremlin’s military action can be stopped. Mr Wallace is in Europe to build momentum for sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. This comes as reports say a Ukrainian soldier killed at least five people and injured five others after opening fire on security guards at a military factory in the centre of the country. The violence coincides with Russia deploying tens of thousands of its troops along the border with Ukraine.

The conflict has led US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s foreign minister Wang Yi to engage on Thursday as Beijing said Russia’s “reasonable security concerns should be taken seriously”.

Moscow has denied it is planning an invasion.

The tension surrounds Russia’s opposition to Ukraine forming close ties with Western nations, many of which are a part of NATO.

When Ukrainians deposed their pro-Russian president in early 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimean peninsula and backed separatists who captured large swathes of eastern Ukraine.

The rebels have fought the Ukrainian military ever since in a conflict that has claimed more than 14,000 lives.

The annexation of Crimea drastically worsened relations between Kiev and Moscow, and even threatened a global crisis.

Amid fears of a full scale war, the crisis also impacted the markets.

Wall Street’s rally was brought to a halt on the week of the invasion, and the Russian ruble fell to a record low against the euro and a five-year low against the dollar.

DAX, the German stock market index, which is heavily linked to Russian gas – fell 3.3 percent, it’s biggest fall at the time since May 2012.

Renault, another company strongly linked to markets in Russia and Ukraine, fell 5 percent on the stock market.

After the financial chaos, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim to Crimea was strengthened by a vote in the region.

The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving Ukraine in a referendum that Europe and the US said was illegal.

William Hague, then Foreign Minister, called Russia’s actions “the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century.”

This time round, the UK has already taken a strong stance against Russia, and reports suggest hundreds more troops could be sent to bolster NATO’s flank in eastern Europe.

Sky News reports that Britain has been in talks with the US about potential deployments as concern mounts over what action Russian President Putin may take as he continues to mass tens of thousands of troops and weaponry around Ukrainian borders.

A Whitehall source said nothing had been confirmed but that more troops being sent to boost NATO’s presence is an option on the table.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted in Parliament this week that Germany may be concerned about the imposition of sanctions against Russia because of its dependence on Russian gas.

Germany and Russia share the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

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Mr Johnson said: “I think the house needs to understand that one of the big issues that we all face in dealing with Ukraine, in dealing with Russia, is the heavy dependence of our European friends in particular on Russian gas.

“It was clear in the conversations last night that, in this era of high gas prices, we are bumping up against that reality.

“So the job of our diplomacy now is to persuade and encourage our friends to go as far as they can to sort this out and to come up with a tough package of economic sanctions, because that is what this situation requires.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron have said diplomacy can be used to resolve the tension in Eastern Europe.

Mr Scholz said a Russian threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity would bear “serious consequences” for Moscow.

He also defended his government amid criticism over Berlin’s response.

He added: “We have done a great deal to actively support economic development and democratic development in Ukraine.”

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