Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be trying to formalize the invasion. A day after President Obama warned Russia against any intervention in Ukraine, Putin called on parliament to give the OK to use the country’s military. (UPDATE: Parliament unanimously approved the request.) "I'm submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country," Putin said in a statement. Perhaps most concerning of all is that the motion Putin called on lawmakers to approve refers to the “territory of Ukraine” and not Crimea specficially, “raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev,” details the Associated Press.
It doesn’t seem Putin will face much resistance. Earlier in the day, the leaders of Russia’s lower and upper houses of parliament called on Putin to ensure the safety of Russian citizens in Crimea. Valentina Matviyenko, the leader of the upper house, said sending “a limited contingent [of troops] to guarantee security” would be justified, according to RIA. Yet the move would only seem to be a formality, acknowledging an already existing reality because armed forces backed by Russia had already effectively taken control of the Crimean peninsula Saturday, notes the New York Times.
Ukraine blasted Russia for deploying some 6,000 extra troops to Crimea, details the BBC. Reuters explains that armed men with a uniform that don’t have clear identification markings control two airports in Crimea. Armed uniformed men also replaced local police in front of the regional parliament building, reports the Washington Post. “What is happening can be called an armed invasion and occupation," said Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s new interior minister. "In violation of all international treaties and norms. This is a direct provocation for armed bloodshed in the territory of a sovereign state."
This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.