Russian shares plunge as U.S. ups the sanctions rhetoric

|By:, SA News Editor

Russia's Micex stock has tumbled 2% after the U.S. yesterday threatened sanctions against vital parts of the country's economy - including financial services, oil and gas, metals and mining, and defense - if the military encroached into eastern and southern Ukraine.

With Russia on the verge of annexing Crimea, the U.S. also imposed asset freezes and visa bans against senior Russian officials and businessmen close to President Vladimir Putin.

The White House sanctioned Bank Rossiya as well, a move that seems to have prompted Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) to suspend services for payment transactions for the bank.

Russia's Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev has tried to brush it all off, saying that he doesn't see any immediate effect of the sanctions on the nation's financial sector or its creditworthiness. That's despite S&P and Fitch cutting Russia's outlook to negative from stable.

Still, the ruble is relatively steady, with the USD-RUB +0.2% at 36.421 rubles.