Russia’s assault on Ukraine hit financial markets on Thursday, with stocks and futures markets in Europe and Asia falling 2% and the crypto market losing nearly 9%.
Bitcoin fell 9% in the past 24 hours, touching weekly lows of $34,725 in early Asian trading. Other major cryptocurrencies also slumped, with ether losing 13%, Solana’s SOL 15%, and Cardano’s ADA 18% – the most among the biggest cryptos by market capitalization.
“The threat of war had already been hanging over investors,” said Susannah Streeter, a markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown in an email to CoinDesk. “The shock of the invasion sent the price of oil hurtling up by more than 7% way above $100 a barrel, reaching more [than] $103 before falling back a notch.”
“Market volatility has increased since the beginning of the year, stoked by rising interest rates, and today’s news has added fuel to the market turbulence,” she said.
Some analysts noted that geopolitical tensions have been among the major fundamental reasons for a slide in cryptocurrencies, which have shed nearly $1.4 trillion in value from November 2021 highs, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
“The prospect of geopolitical escalation has been the main driver of price moves in the broader risk asset spectrum for the past couple of weeks,” said Anto Paroian, chief operating officer at crypto investment fund ARK36, in an email to CoinDesk. “Now that the war between Russia and Ukraine has become reality, investors are rushing to take risk off the table, and stock markets globally are seeing major declines.”
Meanwhile, traders said bitcoin was more lucrative as an asset compared with other major cryptocurrencies, despite the drop.
“Right now, the markets have the highest demand for liquid instruments, making bitcoin slightly less of a risk than altcoins,” said Alex Kuptsikevich, a senior financial analyst at FxPro, in an email to CoinDesk.
“It is likely that a further deterioration in the financial situation could benefit the first cryptocurrency as a means of capital savings for investors from Ukraine, Russia, and some nearby countries,” he said.
Kuptsikevich cautioned more declines could be coming. “The continued flight from risky assets, including equities, could temporarily destabilize altcoins, so it is possible that we will see double-digit losses in altcoins more than once in the coming days,” he said.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.