Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has submitted a proposal to the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, to use the country’s armed forces in Ukraine, Kremlin has reported.
“In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of Russian citizens… I submit to the Federation Council a request to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory until the normalisation of the political situation in that country,” the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying on Saturday.
The move comes after Sergiy Aksyonov, the pro-Russian prime minister of the Crimea region, appealed to Putin for help to ensure peace in the semi-autonomous region where unidentified gunmen believed to be Russian are guarding the state buildings in the region, including the local parliament.
The Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, asked Putin to take measures to stabilise the situation in Crimea and use all available means to protect the people there from tyranny and violence, Interfax cited the speaker of the Duma as saying earlier on Saturday.
Crimea has a majority of ethnic Russians and the region’s administration is defying the removal of Moscow-backed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich.
Kiev rejects Crimea PM
Meanwhile, Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s interim president issued a statement on Saturday declaring that his administration did recognise the authority of Cremian premier Aksyonov.
Russia, denying accusations of staging an aggression against its neighbour country, says any military movement in Crimea is part of the agreement in question that was previously made.
Moscow is also refusing to hold talks with Kiev under the auspices of the agreement that guarantees Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Interfax news agency quoted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrij Deshchitsya as saying on Saturday.
Kiev had asked for consultations with Moscow after accusing it of deploying its military in the Crimea region, adding that the Ukrainian government would not be drawn into a military conflict by Russian “provocations”.
“You all know we have an agreement with Ukraine on the presence of the Russian Black Sea fleet with a base in Sevastopol, and we are acting within the framework of that agreement,” Russia’s United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Friday after a closed-door UN Security Council emergency session on the situation in Crimea.
Warning from Obama
The developments come after US President Barack Obama warned Putin that Moscow would pay “costs” if it is to stage a military intervention. Obama said he was “deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine”.
Ukraine’s new government, which came to power after the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich, has called for fresh presidential elections on May 25, a move opposed by the administration in Crimea.
The interim government has issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovich, accusing him of being responsible for the deaths of at least 70 protesters on February 21 protests in Kiev.