After securing unanimous support from the upper house of parliament, Vladimir Putin is poised to send Russian troops into Ukraine.
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Almost 60 years to the day after the Soviet Union transferred control of Crimea to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine after securing an initial foothold in Crimea.
Members of the upper house of the Russian parliament, never ones to go against Putin's wishes, voted unanimously Saturday to approve sending troops into Ukraine. Putin said there is reason to believe Russian citizens, ethnic Russians, and Russian military interests—Russia maintains a crucial port in Sevastopol, where its Black Sea Fleet is based—in Ukraine are in danger.
Putin may have intelligence the rest of the world does not. While there have certainly been skirmishes between pro-Russian groups and others in Ukraine, there has been little indication that Russian citizens or ethnic Russians have been the targets of violence. And a military base is probably safe from protesters—though as a result of Russia's actions, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko has called for the invalidation of the current agreement allowing Russia to maintain its fleet in Crimea.
The aftermath of clashes between Euromaidan activists and pro-Russian groups in Kharkiv
Not surprisingly, Ukrainians are already announcing their intentions to arm themselves and fight back. Sector Right, a far-right nationalist group that took part in the Euromaidan protests, released this statement:
Being aware of all the dangers that are looming over the Ukrainian state, the headquarters of the Right Sector order all its units to mobilize and arm, and depending on the specific situation to coordinate with the armed forces. We remind all citizens of Ukraine regardless of nationality (including Russians) that our struggle is anti-imperial, not Russophobe. Russian empire will be destroyed. Urge Resistance Movement Caucasus and all liberation movements in Russia to step up their activities.
And Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said on his political party's official Twitter account, “We perceive Russia's actions as direct aggression towards the sovereignty of Ukraine.”
During a short press conference on Friday, US President Barack Obama said, “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” Earlier today, Valentina Matvienko, chairwoman of Russia's upper house of parliament, said she plans on asking Putin to recall Russia's ambassador to the US as a result of Obama's statement.
A large crowd stormed the regional administration headquarters in Kharkiv on March 1 during a pro-Russian rally.