Things are looking grim as Russia continues to edge closer to an all-out invasion of Ukraine.

It leaves us with little choice but to break out the war drums — although commensurate with what’s shaping up as the most serious global conflict in recent memory, risk assets do not like it. At all.

The ASX 200 opened more than 1% lower, before slumping by more than 2.5% into midday trade.

Staying on a musical theme, here’s footage of Ukraine soldiers rocking out to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana (because why not):

While the real scoop is hard to find, multiple reports suggested that an invasion could kick off within the next few hours (12pm Sydney time = 3am in Kyiv).

Speaking in Russian, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a widely-shared statement addressing Russian citizens, and calling again for peace.

Ukrainian airspace has been shut across the country and reports are filtering through of possible rocket attacks near Russian separatist regions.

A selloff in the Aussie dollar also accelerated in Asian trade as markets assess the likelihood of an imminent Russian tank rollout.

The AUD is back trading near US72c while gold continues to edge higher above US$1,900.

ASX winners were hard to find on Thursday, as more tech stocks came under fire following their latest half-year earnings reports.

Mining and energy stocks were sold off hard in morning trade, with large cap gold companies almost the only standouts in a sea of red that was turning to more of an ominous crimson shade.

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 24 [intraday]:

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Despite the broader risk-off sentiment, there was a clear ASX winner in morning trade — large cap contractor firm CIMIC Group (ASX:CIM).

The gains followed a $1.5bn bid by its largest shareholder, Spanish construction company ACS, to take full control of the group in a move which would see it fully-privatised and foreign-owned.

Known as Leighton Holdings until ACS changed its name in 2015, CIMIC is one of Australia’s largest engineering and construction contractors, with annual revenues of around $10bn.

ACS’ bid values the company at around $8bn and would see it buy out the remaining ~22% of the company it doesn’t already own.

Also rising strongly was jewellery retailer group Lovisa (ASX:LOV), which jumped by around 20% following its half-year trading update where it flagged a 70.3% increase in net profit to $36.7m and almost doubled its interim dividend.

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for February 24 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

Things weren’t so rosy on the retail front for City Chic Collective (ASX:CCX), which got belted by around 30% following its half-year results.

The company flagged topline revenue growth of 49% to $178.3m, but said half-year profits fell by 5.9% to $12.3m.

Elsewhere, tech player Appen (ASX:APX) slumped to new multi-year lows after the company’s half-year results showed it missed guidance that it had only provided a few months ago.

Two other risk-on sectors — BNPL and sports betting — also got belted, as the ASX shares of Afterpay parent Block Inc (ASX:SQ2) slumped to new lows beneath $120, while shares in PointsBet (ASX:PBH) fell by around 10%.

Since listing on the ASX on January 20, shares in SQ2 have fallen by more than 30%.