Putin gets parliamentary permission to use military in Ukraine

Russian parliament has granted President Vladimir Putin permission to use the country's military in Ukraine.

Saturday's unanimous vote formalized what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea.

It also raised the possibility that Moscow could send its military elsewhere in Ukraine.

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.

Russia's move sharply raised the stakes in the conflict following the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia. President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Friday ``there will be costs'' if Russia intervenes militarily.

Meantime, the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against travel to Ukraine's Crimea region and says Canadians already there should consider leaving ``while it is safe to do so.''

The warning comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission to use the country's military in Ukraine, moving to formalize troop deployments that Ukrainian officials have called an ongoing invasion of the strategic region of Crimea.

Foreign Affairs says its advisory is due to ``political uncertainty'' and reports of armed groups operating in the area, along with protests and public clashes.

It says those who can't leave Crimea, where the airports aren't operating, should stay indoors and avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

The department is also advising against non-essential travel to Kyiv due to instability.

Putin's request to Russia's parliament loosely referred 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.

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.

 

Photo credit: outsidethebeltway.com

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