SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — As Russian-backed armed forces effectively seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Saturday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia requested —and received — authorization from the Russian Senate to use military force in Ukraine.
The actions signaled publicly for the first time the Kremlin’s readiness to intervene militarily in Ukraine, and it served as a blunt response to President Obama, who just hours earlier pointedly warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Within hours after receiving Mr. Putin’s request, Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, voted to approve it, after a debate that warned of the apocalyptic consequences of failing to stop a fascist threat from spreading to Russia’s borders. The lawmakers directed considerable fury at President Obama and others in the West they accused of fomenting the upheaval in Ukraine.
Just a few hours earlier on Saturday, the newly installed, pro-Russia prime minister of Crimea had declared that he was in sole control of the military and the police in the peninsula and he appealed to Mr. Putin for help in safeguarding the region.
The prime minister, Sergei Aksyonov, also said a public referendum on independence would be held on March 30.
On Friday, officials in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev had accused Russian armed forces of invading Crimea and violating Ukraine’s sovereign territory, and President Obama pointedly warned Russia against military intervention. On Saturday, officials in Kiev reiterated their objections but, for the moment, seemed otherwise powerless.
There was no immediate new comment from Washington, where officials seem to have very limited options in responding to Russian military intervention in Ukraine.
Although American officials did not directly confirm a that Russian troops were being deployed to Crimea in violation of the two countries’ agreements there, Mr. Obama,
in his statement on Friday, cited “reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” and said, “Any violation of Ukrainian sovereignty would be deeply destabilizing.”
“There will be costs,” Mr. Obama said in a hastily arranged statement from the White House.
Full article: Kremlin Prepares for Military Intervention (NY Times)