Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded and won his parliament’s approval on Saturday to invade Ukraine, where the new government warned of war, put its troops on high alert and appealed to NATO for help. Putin’s open assertion of the right to send troops to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
Troops with no insignia on their uniforms but clearly Russian – some in vehicles with Russian number plates – have already seized Crimea, an isolated peninsula in the Black Sea where Moscow has a large military presence in the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet. Kiev’s new authorities have been powerless to stop them. The United States said Russia was in clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and called on Moscow to withdraw its forces back to bases in Crimea. It also urged the deployment of international monitors to Ukraine.