The euro plummeted, and the safe-haven dollar surged Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin accused Western allies of “nuclear blackmail” and hinted Russia is ready to use its nuclear weapons if needed.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to defend Russia and our people, we will use all means we have,” Putin said in his address to the nation, according to a translation by the BBC. “This is not a bluff.
“The territorial integrity of our motherland, our independence, and freedom will be secured, I repeat, with all the means we have.”
“Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.”
His comments were seen as a direct threat to use Russia’s nuclear arsenal to hold onto territorial gains in Ukraine.
The euro dipped $0.9885, down 0.87%, in early trading. The shared European currency was 0.59% lower at $0.9911 at last check.
Meanwhile, the US dollar index surged to 110.80, its highest level since 2002, before decreasing slightly. The index — which tracks the dollar’s performance against a basket of the euro and five other major currencies — was up 0.45% to 110.72 at last check.
The dollar is typically seen as a safe-haven asset by investors and tends to surge when geopolitical mayhem weighs on market sentiment for risk.
The British pound continued its losses after hitting a 37-year low against the dollar last week, falling 0.32% to $1.1345.
Putin focused on the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk and the Moscow-controlled regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, where people will vote on whether to become part of Russia.
The partial mobilization of Russia’s two million reservists will bring another 300,000 troops with previous military experience into the Ukraine conflict.