Moscow: President Vladimir Putin won approval from Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, to send Russian troops into Ukrainian territory yesterday.
A man gestures in front of armed individuals blocking the centre of Balaklava. Russia’s parliament gave President Vladimir Putin (left) the go-ahead to send troops into Ukraine. Pic/AFP
Putin’s request was approved unanimously. Speaker Valentina Matviyenko also ordered the Council’s foreign affairs committee to ask Putin to recall the Russian ambassador from the United States. The envoy Putin sent to the debate made clear afterwards that it was up to the president to decide when to use the right granted to him.
President Vladimir Putin
“The approval that the president was given in the literal sense does not mean that this right will be realised quickly,” said Grigory Karasin, a deputy foreign minister.
He also expressed hope that Western states who had acted before as intermediaries in the Ukraine crisis would be able to “effect action on the authorities in Kiev to return the situation to a normal and constitutional framework.”
Earlier in the day, Putin had asked parliament for permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine, moving to formalise troop deployments that Ukrainian officials have described as an ongoing invasion of the strategic region of Crimea.
Putin’s motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev. Pro-Russian protests were reported in the eastern cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Odessa.
Ukrainian officials and some Western diplomats said that a Russian military intervention is already well underway after heavily armed gunmen in unmarked military uniforms seized control of local government buildings, airports and other strategic facilities in Crimea in recent days.