Thousands of Russian Soldiers Cross Border Into Crimea, Ukraine Reportedly Says
UPDATE — 10:15 a.m. ET: Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked permission from parliament to use the country’s military in Ukraine.
Russia has sent thousands of troops into Crimea, a peninsula of Ukraine located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, Ukraine said Saturday.
According to the AFP, Defense Minister Igor Tenyukh told the Ukrainian’s government’s first cabinet session that Russia had deployed 6,000 additional troops into Crimea as the Kremlin vowed to help restore peace to the troubled region.
30 armored personnel carriers were also sent into the restive Ukrainian region, Tenyukh said, according to the AFP.
Tenyukh reportedly said Russia had made the move “without warning or Ukraine’s permission.”
officials in Crimea called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to “use all available means to defend the population of Crimea from disorder and violence.” The newly appointed pro-Russian prime minister Sergei Aksyonov also took command of the peninsula’s armed forces this week.
Crimea is an autonomous republic within Ukraine, governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine.
Moscow has had an interest in Crimea for decades and the region was at one point legally part of Russia, before being given to Ukraine in 1954 when both were members of the Soviet Union.
This week President Barack Obama warned Russia that “there will be costs” for any military maneuvers launched in Ukraine.
Officials say Obama may retaliate by canceling a trip to Russia this summer for an international summit and could also cut off trade discussions with Moscow. But it’s unclear whether those moves will have any impact on Russia’s calculus in Ukraine, which is at the center of what many see as a tug of war between East and West.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that — in his words — “this could be a very dangerous situation if this continues in a provocative way.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.