Oil prices fell to a five-year low on Monday, sending the rouble tumbling, while fears over slowing manufacturing activity in Europe and China undermined global confidence.
The Russian currency slid as much as 6% against the dollar to a new record low.
The rouble was on track for its biggest one-day fall since Russia’s 1998 currency crisis.
Brent crude sunk as low as $67.53 a barrel, the cheapest it has been since October 2009.
It later regained some ground to trade just above $70 a barrel, while US crude was at $66.34 a barrel, having hit an intraday low of $63.72 – the lowest since July 2009.
Oil prices have fallen by more than a third since the summer, while the rouble is down some 40% since January.
The latest falls in the oil price follows Opec’s decision last week not to cut output and leave its production target at 30 million barrels a day.
Saudi Arabia, the cartel’s biggest producer, said on Monday said it was content with the decision to maintain output despite a supply glut and plunging prices.
Amrita Sen, Energy Aspects’ chief oil analyst, said: “The market is still very much in panic mode. Once we get over the panic, Brent prices will probably stabilise at around $65 to $80 a barrel in the short term.”
Eugen Weinberg, a Commerzbank analyst, said: “The market is still looking for a new equilibrium below $70 [a barrel], which is a little surprising given that with the current prices much of the shale oil production in the US, or part of it, will be unprofitable.”
Ksenia Yudayeva, deputy chairman of the Russian central bank, tried to reassure traders by saying there was sufficient liquidity in currency markets and that the bank had prepared new economic forecasts based on a price of $60 a barrel.
The rouble gained some ground in afternoon trading on Monday, to be down 3.8% at 52.41 against the US dollar and 3.5% lower at 65.39 versus the euro.
Traders said the relatively sudden rally pointed to intervention by the central bank, which declined to comment.