The Moscow Exchange announced Thursday it had suspended trading on all of its markets until further notice.
The South Korean embassy in Kyiv strongly urged its citizens in Ukraine to be ready to evacuate to a safe area in case of an emergency, in a notice published before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine.
“Our embassy learned on February 23 that all Russian embassy and consulate staff in Ukraine hastily left Ukraine, and some national embassy staff also left Kyiv,” said the embassy on its website early Thursday.
“Considering the urgent change in the current situation, we strongly recommend that the South Koreans who are still in Ukraine be fully prepared so that they can move to a safe area or location promptly in case of an emergency,” the embassy said.
The embassy also urged all South Korean nationals in Ukraine to maintain contact with the embassy.
Asian markets and US stock futures plunged on Thursday as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 3.2%. Korea's Kospi dropped 2.7%. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 2.4% after coming back from a holiday. China's Shanghai Composite moved 0.9% lower.
US stocks futures also tumbled. Dow futures were down as much as 780 points, or 2.4%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 2.3% and 2.8%, respectively.
The broad losses followed a sharp decline on Wall Street on Wednesday. The Dow closed down more than 464 points, or 1.4%, posting its fifth straight day of losses. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell 1.8% and 2.6%, respectively.
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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that the situation in Ukraine is “tense” and he would work with G7 nations on the issue.
“The situation is tense. We will continue to work in collaboration with the international community, including the G7 nations,” Kishida told reporters. “We will do our best to collect information and get a grasp of the situation.”
Some context: Kishida on Wednesday said Japan will impose sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
Kishida said Japan will suspend the issuance of visas and freeze the assets of people involved in recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two separatist-held pro-Moscow regions in eastern Ukraine. He did not specify names or how the sanctions would be carried out.
He also said Japan will ban imports and exports to and from Donetsk and Luhansk, and prohibit the issuance and circulation of Russian bonds in Japan. Kishida added that the details of the sanctions will be discussed further.
Kishida said Wednesday that Russia’s actions had “clearly” violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law and urged Russia to resolve the situation through a diplomatic process.
The Ukrainian-controlled part of Luhansk announced a general evacuation on Thursday morning as Russia attacked Ukraine.
“We recommend residents of Luhansk region to leave the region immediately,” the head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration, Serhiy Haiday, said on Facebook.
“The owners of vehicles should move in the direction of the Dnieper river on their own.”
Evacuation by train is being organized for those who cannot leave independently, he added, directing people to the Lysychansk, Rubizhne and Svatove train stations.
“During the evacuation, please remain calm and listen to the instructions of the authorities, the National Police and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine,” he said.
Luhansk is one of two separatist regions backed by Russia, along with Donetsk. Both regions, known as oblasts in Ukrainian, are split between parts controlled by Ukraine and by pro-Moscow separatists.
Ukraine was attacked through multiple borders, the Ukrainian state border service said early Thursday.
"At about 5:00 a.m., the state border of Ukraine in the area with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus was attacked by Russian troops supported by Belarus," the service said.
It added that attacks are being carried out in Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Zhytomyr regions — areas on the eastern and northern borders of Ukraine. The attacks are targeting border units, border patrols and checkpoints using artillery, heavy equipment and small arms, the border service said.
"In addition, the attack takes place from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea side," said the service.
Ukraine is firing back: It added that border guards, along with Ukraine's Armed Forces and National Guard, are "firing at the enemy" depending on the situation on the border.
The US Embassy in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, said in a Twitter post Thursday that it is “aware of military engagements within Ukraine.”
“We will continue to monitor and provide updates. Americans are encourage to monitor this account and @TravelGov as we issue updates,” the tweet said.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday that the small group of US diplomats who have remained in Ukraine were continuing to sleep in Poland and commuting to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
Price said they had “every expectation that they will continue to do so as long as the security environment remains permissive.”
CNN has asked the State Department whether US diplomats returned to Ukraine on Thursday.
US officials had repeatedly urged Americans to leave Ukraine as they warned Russia could invade at any time.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko spoke by phone on Thursday, according to Belarusian state news agency Belta.
"At about 5:00 a.m. today, a telephone conversation took place between the Presidents of Belarus and Russia, during which Vladimir Putin informed his Belarusian counterpart about the situation on the border with Ukraine and in the Donbas," Belta cited the Belarusian presidential press service as saying.
Troops entering Ukraine via Belarus: CNN has witnessed, through a livestream video, troops atop a column of military vehicles entering Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus.
CNN has witnessed, through a livestream video, troops atop a column of military vehicles entering Ukraine from a border crossing with Belarus.
The livestream video was taken at the Senkivka, Ukraine crossing with Veselovka, Belarus. The column was seen entering Ukraine around 6:48 a.m. local time.
In recent weeks, Russia has amassed a significant number of troops, vehicles and tanks in Belarus near the border with Ukraine. During that time, the two countries have held joint military exercises across the countries, and near the Belarus-Ukrainian border.