Russia’s Federation Council has unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to use Russian military forces in Ukraine. The move is aimed to settle the turmoil in the split country.
The upper house of the Russian parliament has voted in favor of sending troops to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which would ensure peace and order in the region “until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized.”
The debate in the Federation Council has revealed that Russian MPs are united on the issue, with many of them sharing concerns on the recent events in Ukraine. The common notion was that since the power was seized in Kiev, the situation has only been deteriorating with radical nationalists rapidly coming to power and threatening the lives of those opposing their actions, most notably the Russian citizens living in Ukraine.
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.
Crimeans began protesting after the new self-proclaimed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages in official circumstances in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language in their everyday life. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.
Putin on Saturday requested the Federation Council to use the Army for normalizing the socio-political situation in Ukraine in connection with the “extraordinary situation” there. The events in Ukraine indicate there is a “threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation… and the personnel of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory,” the Russian president said.
According to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the president has not yet made a decision on sending the troops to Ukraine.
Moreover, taking the decision to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine does not mean that it will be carried out immediately, Grigory Karasin, Putin’s official representative in the Federation Council, has said.
“The approval, which the president will receive, does not literally mean that this right will be used promptly,” Karasin said.
Russian citizens are among the victims of the turmoil gripping Ukraine, the speaker of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, has said. In Crimea, there were Russian casualties during the storming of the local Interior Ministry building by gunmen overnight, she added.
“During the attempts to seize the building of the Interior Ministry in Crimea some were injured, there were victims also, the people are being threatened, and in this situation they are naturally voicing concerns for the security of their lives and families. This compelled the government of Crimea to ask Russia for help,” Matvienko said.
The speaker’s words coincided with the statement issued by Russian Federal Migration Service noting that some 143,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in Russia. The number represents a sharp rise in such requests, the authority said.
The new Ukrainian authorities have been formed “under the dictate of Maidan” and “continue to use force in the forming of the decision-making structures,” Karasin said.
“We are particularly concerned with the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, where, in accordance with the international treaty, the Black Sea Fleet is stationed; where 1.5 million Russian people live,” Putin’s representative stressed.
The Crimean population “resents” the attempts to seize local administration buildings and the threats thrown at regional authorities, and demands stability, he said.
At the same time, Karasin said he believes the international community and those states that backed the February 21 agreement between the opposition and the legitimate Ukrainian government “have the power” to influence the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities to bring the situation back to “constitutional ways.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that Moscow is expecting that the international community will influence the self-proclaimed Kiev regime to normalize the situation in the country.