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Parliament agrees armed force to protect Russians in Ukraine
March 1, 2014, 3:25 pm

Putin said armed forces are needed to protect Russian bases in the Crimea and Russian citizens who could be in danger [AP]

Putin said armed forces are needed to protect Russian bases in the Crimea and Russian citizens who could be in danger [AP]

Russian legislators in the upper house of parliament have unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the deployment of troops in the Ukraine to protect Russian citizens and military forces located in naval bases in Crimea, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Putin’s request comes amid the chaos perpetuated by the political vacuum created since the opposition assumed power in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev on February 23. On Thursday, armed men stormed the parliament in Kiev and seized control.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that pro-Russian demonstrations erupted in eastern and southern Ukraine.

On Saturday, a Kremlin statement indicated that the newly appointed “prime minister” of Crimea, Sergiy Aksyonov, has asked Moscow for help to maintain order in the largely pro-Russian region of the Ukraine.

Crimea, or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, is a peninsula located in southern Ukraine along the northern coast of the Black Sea.

Aksyonov said that Russian soldiers and naval officers are already protecting Moscow’s Black Sea fleet based there.

The situation in Ukraine began to deteriorate when protests began last November after the government reversed a decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the EU, receiving instead a $15 billion bailout from northern neighbour, Russia and promises of closer ties.

As the crisis intensified, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned in January.

On February 21, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and three main opposition leaders a deal to hold early elections in December and reduce presidential powers (by returning to tenets in the 2004 constitution) in a bid to quell the violence that has claimed dozens of lives among protesters and security forces.

Some armed protesters, however, have issued an ultimatum for Yanukovych to resign. He fled the capital a few days later.

On Friday, US President Barak Obama said that any military intervention by Russian forces in the Ukraine would carry a price.

“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine,” Obama said.

Source: Agencies