The crisis between Russia and the West has intensified following Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise breakaway republics in east Ukraine – and Joe Biden warning that the world is now on the brink of war.
A convoy of 100 tanks was seen heading toward the border as Russia prepared for a full-scale assault on Ukraine, and the parliament in Moscow endorsed the Russian president’s request to deploy troops abroad.
Meanwhile, Mr Putin last night supported the territorial claims of Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine – including large areas currently held by Ukrainian forces – raising fears of all-out war.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the situation was now as serious as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, and Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg call it ‘the most dangerous moment in European security for a generation’.
Britain, the US and the European Union launched co-ordinated sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs close to the Russian president – and Boris Johnson said the West should now steel itself ‘for a protracted crisis’.
Stock markets around the world tumbled after Putin’s troops announcement, but showed signs of recovery during the day.
The FTSE 100 index in London closed 11 points lower at 7,495.97.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research think tank warned that the Ukraine crisis could fuel inflation and slow down growth in the main Western economies.
Some British businesses could also be affected by sanctions against Russia, including BP, which has a significant share in the Russian energy firm Rosneft.
Any prolonged impact on the financial markets will also affect pensions, as most pension funds invest primarily in stocks and bonds.