Vladimir Putin Sends Russian Military Into Ukraine. Kiev Calls Move "Direct Aggression." President Obama Warns Russia [Video/Pics]

Troops in unmarked uniforms stand guard in Balaklava on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. (AP)


Video After The Jump


Written by Vladimir Isachenkov for the Associated Press


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia's parliament approved a motion to use the country's military in Ukraine after a request from President Vladimir Putin as protests in Russian-speaking cities turned violent Saturday, sparking fears of a wide-scale invasion.


Russian President Vladimir Putin


The motion follows President Barack Obama's warning Friday "there will be costs" if Russia intervenes militarily, sharply raising the stakes in the conflict over Ukraine's future and evoking memories of Cold War brinkmanship.



"I'm submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country," Putin said in his request sent to parliament.


Russia's upper house also recommended that Moscow recalls its ambassador from Washington over Obama's comments.


Ukraine had already accused Russia on Friday of a "military invasion and occupation" in the strategic peninsula of Crimea where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk called on Moscow "to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations," according to the Interfax news agency. "Russian partners, stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine."


The crisis was sparked when Ukraine's deposed president, Victor Yanukovych, ditched a deal for closer ties to the European Union and instead turned toward Moscow. Months of protests followed, culminating in security forces killing dozens of protesters and Yanukovych fleeing to Russia.


Ignoring Obama's warning, Putin said the "extraordinary situation in Ukraine" was putting at risk the lives of Russian citizens and military personnel stationed at a naval base that Moscow has maintained in the Black Sea peninsula since the Soviet collapse.


Putin's call came as pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east, where protesters raised Russian flags and beat up supporters of the new Ukrainian government.


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 Luhansk and the southern port of Odessa.


Ukraine's population is divided in loyalties between Russia and Europe, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support. Crimea, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine, is mainly Russian-speaking.


In Saturday's parliamentary session in Moscow, a deputy house speaker said Obama had insulted Russia and crossed a "red line," and the upper house recommended the Russian ambassador in Washington be recalled. It will be up to Putin to decide whether that happens.


In Crimea, the pro-Russian prime minister who took office after gunmen seized the regional Parliament claimed control of the military and police there and asked Putin for help in keeping peace, sharpening the discord between the two neighboring Slavic countries.


Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said the election of Sergei Aksyonov as prime minister of Crimea was invalid.


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.



Crimea only became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia, a move that was a mere formality when both Ukraine and Russia were part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet breakup in 1991 meant Crimea landed in an independent Ukraine.


Russia put pressure on Ukraine from another direction when a spokesman for state gas company Gazprom said that Ukraine owed $1.59 billion in overdue bills for imported gas. Sergei Kuprianov was quoted by the RIA-Novosti agency as saying the gas arrears would endanger a recent discount granted by Russia. The discount lowered the price to $268.50 per thousand from other $400. The Russian payment demand and loss of the discount would accelerate Ukraine's financial crisis. The county is almost broke and seeking emergency credit from the International Monetary Fund.


Russia has taken a confrontational stance toward its southern neighbor after Yanukovych fled the country. Yanukovych was voted out of office by parliament after weeks of protests ended in violence that left more than 80 people dead.


Aksyonov, the Crimea leader, appealed to Putin "for assistance in guaranteeing peace and calmness on the territory of the autonomous republic of Crimea." Aksyonov was voted in by the Crimean parliament on Thursday after pro-Russia gunmen seized the building and as tensions soared over Crimea's resistance to the new authorities in Kiev, who took office this week.


Obama called on Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.


He said such action by Russia would represent a "profound interference" in matters he said must be decided by the Ukrainian people.


"The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine," he said. Obama did not say what those costs might be.


Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter that it was "obvious that there is Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Likely immediate aim is to set up puppet pro-Russian semi-state in Crimea."



At the United Nations, the Ukrainian ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, said Friday that Russian transport aircraft and 11 attack helicopters had arrived in Crimea illegally, and that Russian troops had taken control of two airports in Crimea.


An armed man patrols at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea February 28, 2014 (Reuters)


He described the gunmen posted outside the two airports as Russian armed forces as well as "unspecified" units.


Russia has kept silent on claims of military intervention and has said any troop movements are within agreed rules, even as it maintained its hard-line stance on protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea.


Armed men stand inside the regional parliament building in the Crimean city of Simferopol (Reuters)


Meanwhile, flights remained halted from Simferopol's airport. Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings patrolled the area. They didn't stop or search people leaving or entering the airport, and refused to talk to journalists.


Putin's proposal to deploy forces in Ukraine approved by Russian senators



Ukrainians speak of their fear of Russian advance




Ukraine: 'Invasion' at airport is by Russian soldiers




Kiev: Russias move is direct aggression Ukraine police charge protesters after nations bloodiest day




President Obama Warns Russia on Intervention



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Comment by Vinny Vendetta on March 3, 2014 at 3:57pm

anastasia aka warrior princess Indeed. The people of Ukraine want peace and the destruction of local thugs and gangs and nazi's. They want Russia's help to stop the Nazi thugs. they don't want NATO or America's help.

1hb6kfe6oickb Comment by 1hb6kfe6oickb on March 3, 2014 at 1:04pm

American military expert just said it would be devastating to Russia's national security and economy if they don't keep control of Crimea. If this is true, then what world leader in their right mind would not do the same thing as Putin. He's protecting the best interests of his country. Everybody mad at that US congresswomen that said she understands Putins's position but truth is truth. We may not like him but he gotta do what is best for his country.

1hb6kfe6oickb Comment by 1hb6kfe6oickb on March 3, 2014 at 12:49pm

Since at least 75% of the ppl in Crimea want Russia there and support a Russian takeover then wouldn't a Russian takeover of Crimea be just as justified as the govt. takeover that just happened in Ukraine. If we are saying that we have to give the ppl what they in that case wouldn't the same apply to this case since that's what the ppl in Crimea want? Don't know the specifics and not saying that Putin is in the right but I have to say - Putin don't be playing. Like him or not, he has always shown strength and backs up his power when he flexes. Dude got mad swag and he don't give a f about what ppl think nor their threats. I love my country but we look weak as hell in this scenario. And now Kerry on talking about we gonna give more money to Ukraine yet we got Americans starving and suffering. Let's help ourselves and our citizens first so that we can be strong enough as a nation to help others - right now we not.

Comment by BadillakBliff on March 3, 2014 at 10:57am
1hb6kfe6oickb Comment by 1hb6kfe6oickb on March 2, 2014 at 9:25am

I don't understand why Obama supports all these coups and uprisings. Their president was legally elected and I understand that the ppl didn't want him anymore but overthrowing legal governments can be dangerous and easily lead to instability in the region. If the same thing happened here, I wonder if Obama would be ok with it and say let the ppl have what they want. Don't know too much about the situation in Ukraine but why couldn't they wait until the next election and get rid of him legally? "Can it be the anarchy that humanity is feeling?" Putin ain't no joke, for real. And he's one of the few international leaders that has spoken out against the historical treatment of blacks in this country.

Comment by fan123 on March 2, 2014 at 7:37am

LOL Obama: PM uhm... PM of Ukraine

PPL that voted for this fking dolt needs to be beaten to death.

Comment by DannyTanner on March 2, 2014 at 1:32am
@shone you big dummy. Who gives a f*** what you have when Russia has enough uranium to blow this whole planet into pieces. Idiot.
Comment by 1THUG aka Tha NYCHA LEGEND!! on March 1, 2014 at 10:51pm

tha military industrial imperialism complex is a worldwide phenomenon spearheaded by tha world bank and tha IMF (International Mutha Fuggaz)!! iss aboutta be world war 3...

Comment by Ibraheem Musa Usman on March 1, 2014 at 10:46pm

Obama should stem them gays and lesbians up to go kick some Russians assess,oooo but too bad this m*********s are not Iraq or Afghanistan.He should better try and fix America than opening his dirty mouth to say there ll be a cost.If i ll be a president i ll dump all these blood sucking European governments and join the thighs with the Russian Federation.

Comment by Versa on March 1, 2014 at 9:48pm

really a war with russia, this aint Irag russia will fight back and win. They won WW2 NOT AMERICA

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