SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (CNN, March 1st, 2014)- Russia’s upper house of parliament voted Saturday to approve the use of military force in Ukraine. The vote was unanimous.
Due to the “extraordinary situation in Ukraine,” Putin said, there are threats to the lives of Russian citizens and Russian military personnel based in the southern Crimean region.
It comes on the same day that the new pro-Russian leader of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, asked Putin for help in maintaining peace in the Black Sea peninsula — where Russia has a major naval base at Sevastopol.
International concerns are mounting that Moscow may intervene militarily in the crisis, despite warnings from the United States and other Western powers that it should respect Ukrainian sovereignty. In response to Putin’s move, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted: “Russian military intervention in Ukraine is clearly against international law and principles of European security.”
The newly appointed interim government in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, is seeking to prevent tensions in Crimea, which has a majority-Russian population, escalating into a full-blown bid for separation.