MOSCOW, March 1 – Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested approval from the country’s upper house of parliament to move armed forces into Ukraine, according to the Kremlin’s press service.
The move comes after reports of large Russian troop movements in the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, and a week after the opposition swept to power in Kiev when President Viktor Yanukovych suddenly left the city.
Putin, who has yet to speak publicly about the crisis in Ukraine, requested permission to use military force because of a threat to the lives of Russian citizens and danger posed to Russian military forces located in naval bases in Crimea, according to the Kremlin.
Russian troops will remain deployed until the “political-social situation in the country is normalized,” the Kremlin said.
The approval of the Federation Council, which is known as a rubber stamp body, is required to use Russian forces outside the country’s boders.
Putin and members of the Russian government will attend a special session of the chamber in order to receive the approval, according to state-owned television channel Rossiya 24.
Putin will address the Federation Council as part of the deliberations, Rossiya 24 said.
Unidentified, heavily armed soldiers have been visible across Crimea since Thursday morning when gunmen stormed the country’s parliament.
The recently appointed Prime Minister of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov said Saturday that troops from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were already deployed across the peninsula to guard strategically important sites.