CNN broke this story just over an hour and a half ago. President Putin has called on Parliament to approve the use of troops in Crimea, Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the upper house of parliament to send Russian troops into Ukraine's Crimea region to normalize the political situation there, the Kremlin said Saturday. Due to the "extraordinary situation on Ukraine," Putin said, there are threats to the lives of Russian citizens and Russian military personnel based in the Crimean region.So, what has been rumored yesterday is now becoming public. Yesterday, President Obama warned Russia of unspecified consequences should they enter Ukraine. The question now becomes, what will those consequences be?
Russian and Ukranian forces are already staring each other down:
A Kremlin spokesman said Russia "will not disregard" Crimean Premier Sergey Aksyonov's request for help "in maintaining peace and accord in Crimea."There was a similar situation in Georgia in 2008, when Russia entered that country in order to "protect" ethnic Russians living in South Ossetia.
Hours later, about 300 gunmen wearing Russian Special Forces uniforms attempted to take over the Sevastopol unit of the Ukrainian Coast Guard, a senior official with the Ukrainian Border Service said.
The gunmen were positioned outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard building, with local residents standing between the two sides, said Col. Sergii Astakhov, assistant to the chief of the Ukrainian Border Service.
The residents are reportedly trying to negotiate and asking the gunmen not to attack, Astakhov said.
Putin came to power amid a nationalistic wave. What we don't know is, how many troops Putin plans to send to Crimea, what the limits of his demands will be, or what specific information about threats to Russian citizens that Putin has. Should Crimea break away from Ukraine, it will solidify the current pro-Western leaders in power. But there will always be the temptation for Putin to meddle further in Ukranian affairs to "protect" ethnic Russians still living there.
UPDATE: New developments in this crisis. We published an update here. An emergency UN Security Council meeting is about to be held and Russian tanks are in Crimea, per CNN footage.