Asian stock markets plunged and oil prices surged after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced Russian military action in Ukraine.
Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell 2 per cent and Hong Kong and Sydney lost more than 3 per cent this morning while oil prices jumped nearly 3 dollars (£2.22) per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies.
Earlier, Wall Street’s benchmark S and P 500 index fell 1.8% to an eight-month low after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked for military assistance.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is warning air operators of a high risk to civilian aircraft over Ukraine, reminding air operators that “this is now an active conflict zone”.
In the bulletin issued early on Thursday, EASA said that: “Airspace and critical infrastructure, including airports, are exposed to military activities which result in safety risks for civil aircraft. In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft.”
It added: “The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a HIGH risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels.”
It recommended that, “additionally, as a precautionary measure, operators should exercise extreme caution and avoid using the airspace” within 100 nautical miles of the Belarusian- and Russia-Ukraine border.
The websites of Ukraine’s defence, foreign and interior ministries were unreachable or slow to load on Thursday morning after a wave of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
In addition to DDoS attacks on Wednesday, cybersecurity researchers said unidentified attackers had infected hundreds of computers with destructive malware, some in neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania.
Asked if the denial-of-service attacks were continuing this morning, senior Ukrainian cyber defence official Victor Zhora did not answer. “Are you serious?” he texted. “There are ballistic missiles here.”
“This is terrible. We need the world to stop it. Immediately,” Mr Zhora said of the offensive that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced before dawn.