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Ukraine crisis roils markets: Which global economic power is most at risk?

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind
Daily Ticker

The crisis in the Ukraine hit markets Monday morning, unsettling investors around the globe and upsetting already temperamental emerging markets. Russia’s Micex index was down over 11% early Monday and the ruble hit a record low against the U.S. dollar.

U.S. futures were down sharply as the global selloff continued, and the German DAX fell nearly 2.5%.

Related: Ukraine uncertainty won’t derail emerging market gains: Baker

“Germany is the largest economy in Europe,” Dan Gross, columnist at The Daily Beast, tells The Daily Ticker Monday. “Their volume of trade with Russia is huge, it’s about three times the size of what [the U.S.] does—they get a lot of their natural gas and energy from Russia; they send a lot of their product to Russia. So if there was some kind of serious disruption in the Russian economy Germany suffers,” which has the potential to disrupt all of the European Union, he says. Germany is the largest economy in Europe.

China also risks losing out economically in the Ukraine. Beijing and Kiev have recently forged a strong commerical relationship -- trading corn and military goods. China has called for a resolution to the fighting. Asian stocks have now fallen for the second day in a row.

Cautious investors are flocking to safe havens like bonds, gold and the Japanese yen, which have jumped as riskier markets fall.

Trouble began in the Ukraine nearly three months ago when then-president Viktor Yanukovych rejected a European trade deal that would have indicated a shift away from dependence on Russia. A large portion of the Ukrainian population wanted closer ties with Europe, but Putin was putting pressure on the country to integrate more closely with Moscow.

Related: China's falling currency could spark global tensions: Marc Chandler

Protests quickly turned violent and Yanukovych responded by enacting strict anti-protest laws, a move that further enraged the public. The laws were later removed but the damage was already done—on Feb. 22 the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from office. He refused to resign and called the vote a coup while his palace and home were taken over by protesters. Yanukovych fled to Russia where he maintains he is still the elected Ukrainian president.

On Feb. 28 Russia began to send armed troops to Crimea, an autonomous republic that sits within the borders of Ukraine and on March 1 the Russian parliament granted Putin’s request for authorization to use military force throughout the Ukraine. In a televised address President Obama expressed deep concern over Russia’s actions. Kiev has mobilized troops against the Russian threat -- and global leaders are now scrambling to come to a diplomatic solution.  

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