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Russian Parliament approves troop deployment to Ukraine

Armed guards in military uniforms and equipment patrol an airport in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine.
Armed guards in military uniforms and equipment patrol an airport in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine.
AFP: Viktor Drachev (via ABC News)

Russia's upper house of parliament has unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces to "the territory of Ukraine" at the request of President Vladimir Putin. This move is said to protect Russian military assets and citizens of Russia living there.

The Crimean peninsula has been the subject of debate since the exodus of the Ukraine's former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Many of the people living there were pro-Russian politics, and nearly spelled the division of Ukraine between nationalist and Russian supporters.

Putin's request and the 90-0 vote by the Federation Council meeting were in response to an appeal from the newly installed leader of Crimea in an effort to "normalize" the situation in the region that hosts Russia's Black Sea fleet. This move has been justified by claims that the recent violence in Kiev has disturbed the "constitutional order" and threatened the Russian minority in Ukraine.

Two airports recently in Crimea were confirmed to have been hosting Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms this weekend. According to the Los Angeles Times, several hundred gunmen in military fatigues without markings or insignia to distinguish themselves as Russian military forces, have already been deployed to patrol government buildings, communication sites, and military installations in Simferopol.

The interim government in Kiev has accused Moscow of "naked aggression."

Meanwhile, the U.S. as well as other European leaders, have stated they may skip over the G8 summit in the Russian city of Sochi this summer if they deem Russia as threatening Ukraine's sovereignty.

"The United States calls on Russia to pull back the military forces that are being built up in the region, to stand down and to allow the Ukrainian people the opportunity to pursue their own government, create their own destiny and to do so freely without intimidation or fear," Washington's UN envoy Samantha Power said after an emergency UN Security Council meeting.

At this time, there is no suggestion that the US or allied military intervention in Ukraine will take place. At this time, the U.S. needs Putin's support on issues such as Iran's nuclear program, Syria's chemical weapons, and on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan

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