Financial markets surged Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed U.S. sanctions against his country and said he has no plans to take over other parts of Ukraine, the effective annexation of Crimea already complete.
Putin’s address comes just days after a large majority of Crimean Parliament voted in favor of joining Russia. The United States and the European Union responded to Sunday’s referendum vote by announcing sanctions against a number of Russian officials believed to be involved in what the West has called an "illegitimate" referendum.
He said Western attempts to intimidate Russia with sanctions "would be viewed as an act of aggression, and that Moscow would retaliate," Reuters reported.
Putin assured Russia's parliament that there would be no further action taken involving Ukraine.
"We don't need the division of Ukraine," he said, prompting what appears to be a market turnaround that suggests financial markets are listening more to the Russian president than they are to Western powers.
Moscow's RTS index is trading higher, showing a noticeable bump following Monday's surge of nearly 5 percent.
Several Russian companies moved quickly before the sanctions were announced to withdraw billions of dollars from Western banks, rescuing their assets from possibly being frozen by foreign powers.
Russian officials even responded to the sanctions with mockery and scorn.
“It’s a big honor for me,” top Putin aide Vladislav Surkov reportedly told a Russian newspaper. “I don’t have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”
A few analysts have suggested that Tuesday's market turnaround reflects investors breathing a sigh of on a possible de-escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
“Putin further soothed investor concerns,” said technical analyst Fawad Razaqzada, according to the Associated Press.
Then again, it is worth noting that President Barack Obama just invited the leaders from the G-7 nations to meet in the Netherlands next week to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The G-7 is comprised of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, but not Russia, which is part of the G-8.
This would seem to imply that the relationship between the United States and Russia is still tense.
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