The Russian parliament’s upper house unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for a military intervention in Ukraine, according to a Kremlin statement Saturday.
The approval came within two hours of Putin appealing to parliament saying the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea.
But Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Grigory Karasin — who Putin appointed as the official representative on the military action proposal — said Russian force in Ukraine may not be used quickly.
Karasin did not give a timeframe for military action and it was unclear whether Putin’s announcement was merely intended to send a message to international powers that Russia would not back down over the future of Ukraine.
Hours before Putin’s statement, Western foreign ministers issued calls for Russia to de-escalate the crisis in Crimea — echoing a similar warning from President Barack Obama that armed intervention would have “costs.”