Moscow Stock Market Shutters & Ruble Plummets As Putin Flails

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The Moscow stock market has now remained closed for a full work week’s worth of trading under the pressure of economic measures that have been imposed by Western interests in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. As summarized by The Wall Street Journal ahead of what would have been Friday’s trading on the Moscow exchange, “Russian authorities will keep the Moscow stock market largely closed for a fifth straight day, as they continue to shield local shares from potentially severe selling pressure.” The value of Russian currency has plummeted amid those economic counter-measures from the West, making imports into Russia more expensive amid the Russian society’s increasing economic isolation from the world — although Western interests have sought to protect energy prices.

On the Russian television channel RBC, Russian stock market analyst Alexander Butmanov “drank to the death of the stock market,” as summarized by CNBC, although he said that what he was drinking wasn’t alcohol. (It was apparently carbonated water.) As he put it, looking into a nearby camera: “Today, I’m drinking carbonated water… Dear stock market, you were close to us, you were interesting, rest in peace dear comrade.”

Targets of economic actions taken in response to the invasion of Ukraine range from financing for the military to hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign currency reserves held by Russia’s central bank. Trading of stock shares for certain Russian interests has also been restricted in both the U.S. and United Kingdom. The United States announced new measures against particular individuals associated with Putin just this past Thursday; those who were targeted — some of whom “sit atop Russia’s largest companies and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to the White House — “will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use,” Biden’s team said.

As for the progression of the conflict itself, Russian military personnel have been continuously targeting high-profile locations around Ukraine, and they have taken the city of Kherson. Other targets include Kharkiv and Kyiv, the latter of which is the Ukrainian capital. According to the country’s officials, thousands of Ukrainian civilians have died amid the conflict, although exact numbers are obviously difficult to pin down at this point in time. Over 1.2 million Ukrainians have fled as refugees into nearby countries amid the expansive destruction, spotlighting the staggeringly broad impacts of the violence. Negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian teams — which have not involved the presidents of either country — have been relatively limited in their impacts.