NEW DELHI: Russian strikes at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine wiped Rs 5 lakh crore ($66 billion) off investor wealth on Friday, with the geopolitical tension eroding about Rs 15 lakh crore ($197 billion) in fortune ever since Russia on February 15 announced a partial withdrawal of its troops from Ukrainian border only to launch a full-scale invasion later on.

Data showed the BSE market capitalisation stood at about Rs 246 lakh crore on Friday compared with Rs 251 lakh crore in the previous session, a fall of Rs 5 lakh crore or $66 billion at today’s exchange rate of 76 per dollar.

Only a few of analysts on the Street could anticipate the turn of events that followed after Feb 15. Since then, the Sensex has lost about 4,000 points and investors have lost $197 billion. The wealth erosion on Dalal Street was higher than Ukraine’s 2021 GDP estimated at $181.03 billion by the IMF.

Oil prices, on the other hand, went near the $120 a barrel mark.

On Feb 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two eastern Ukrainian regions Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states and ordered Russian troops to act as “peacekeepers”. On February 23, Ukraine declared a nationwide state of emergency and, by the next day, Russia launched a full-scale war on Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia kept piling up and oil prices jumped.

On Friday, reports emerged that Europe’s largest nuclear reactor in Ukraine caught fire in Russian attacks, though it later emerged that the fire was outside of the reactor perimeter and that local firefighters had been allowed in to control the blaze without being shot at.

“It does now, though, highlight another serious risk factor surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the safety of its nuclear plants now that Russia’s tactics appear to be shifting to its usual playbook, levelling cities into submission with artillery and rockets. Europe appears to be at the mercy of the ability of Russian artillery regiments to fire accurately. I’m not comforted by that,” said Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA.


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