Global investors are showing caution on Friday as global tensions in Ukraine is weighing on risk appetite in advance of last ditch efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London to settle a rising dispute over the handling of the autonomous region of Crimea in southern Ukraine.
Following the ousting last month of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who fled Kiev after he had rejected an earlier EU trade deal and accepted a Moscow backed loan, Ukrainians protested and installed a new pro-West government.
Sensing a loss of influence and power in the region, Russia has dug in its heels in Crimea this month after seizing control and sending in over 20,000 troops. A referendum vote for Crimea to secede from Ukraine is set for Sunday with far reaching implications that could aggravate cold war tensions.
Russia has recently amassed Russian troops along the border of eastern Ukraine as Russian President Putin continues to speak about the need to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
The United States and the EU have both strongly condemned Russia’s incursion into Crimea and are threatening sanctions with travel bans and asset freezes that will accelerate if Crimea secedes from Ukraine and is annexed to the Russian Federation.
Earlier in the week, NATO conducted reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to help monitor the crisis in Ukraine.
NATO also set up Black Sea exercises with Romania and Bulgaria.
Today Russia has sent more troops and armor into Crimea while still threatening to invade other parts of Ukraine, mostly like in eastern Ukraine which has larger percentages of ethnic Russians.
Russia is planning to conduct military exercises today with fighter jets over the Mediterranean Sea.