U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Kiev today to "reaffirm the United States' strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty" as Russian troops take control of Crimea and threaten a full-scale invasion. In response, Ukraine has mobilized its reserves.
The U.S. has threatened to isolate Russia economically and is considering a range of sanctions unless it withdraws from Ukraine, including freezing assets, visa bans, action against banks and even expulsion from the G8. However, some European countries rely on Russia for energy so forging a widespread agreement on sanctions could be tough.
All sides are examining a get-out option for Russia that would involve sending international observers to Crimea and eastern Ukraine to protect the rights of ethnic Russians - one of Vladimir Putin's ostensible reasons for seizing Crimea - under any new government in Kiev.
The crisis has sent Russian markets tumbling and prompted the country's central bank to temporarily hike interest rates to 7% from 5.5%. The USD-RUB is +1.2% to 36.457 after earlier hitting 36.65. The broad ruble-based MICEX stock index is -9.4% and the dollar-based RTS is -11.1%.
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