Putin requests senators’ approval to use Russian military in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the country’s senators to approve using Russian military forces in Ukraine to settle the situation there. Russian MPs have said that the turmoil in Crimea could allow for such a move.
Earlier on Saturday, the Chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, said that the current circumstances in Ukraine make such a move possible.
“It’s possible in this situation, complying with a request by the Crimean government, even to bring a limited contingent of our troops to ensure the safety of the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian citizens living on Crimean territory. The decision is for the president, the chief military commander, to make, of course. But today, taking the situation into account, even that variant can’t be excluded. We need to protect the people,” Matvienko said.
“In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the personnel of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory (in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea)... I submit a proposal on using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine until the normalization of the socio-political situation in the that country.”
The Russian government has so far been careful in its assessment of the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian government in Kiev. Matvienko said the reason for that was Russia counting on its Western partners, who vowed to guarantee the February 21 agreements between ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition.
“Russia did not interfere in the situation in Ukraine for a very long time and showed restraint, assuming that the Western states, which became backers of the agreements, would see that strict compliance with the deal is observed,” she said.
However, after “violent upheaval” took place in Ukraine, the Western states did not come up with “any reasonable measures or responses,” Matvienko said.
Russia, in contrast, for a very long time has urged the situation to be resolved by lawful means, and called for the anti-coup sentiments in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine to be heard, she said.
“Not seeing an adequate reaction from the West, we could no longer maintain status quo,” the speaker concluded.
Matvienko stated as thousands of pro-Russian demonstrators rallied in the Crimean cities of Simferopol, Melitopol, Yevpatoria and Mariupol, protesting against the rule of new Kiev authorities.
According to the Russian Constitution, the use of Army on foreign territories can only be approved by the majority of the Federation Council members upon a request by the President.
The developments follow an appeal by the Prime Minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, who requested that Russia to help cope with the crisis and ensure “peace and calm” in the region.
The tension in Crimea escalated following an attempt to seize the building of the local Interior Ministry by gunmen overnight. Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move in a statement, blaming the new authorities in Kiev for intending to “destabilize the situation on the peninsula.”
Meanwhile, self-proclaimed Ukrainian Acting President Aleksandr Turchinov has signed a decree ruling that appointment of the pro-Russia premier in Crimea is “illegal.”
Aksyonov, who is the leader of Crimea’s Russian Unity party, was appointed as the new Prime Minister of the autonomy after the Crimean Supreme Council dismissed the regional government. Peace and order in the region has been maintained by local armed self-defense squads, which were widely misreported as Russian troops on Friday.
Massive media speculation also arose around claims that the Russian military have been making “illegal” moves in Crimea. The Russian Foreign Ministry sent an official note to Ukraine, stressing that all the moves are carried out “in full accordance with basic Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the Black Sea Fleet.”