01/03/14 16:31 CET
| updated xx mn ago
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to deploy the country’s armed forces in Crimea has been passed by a unanimous vote in Russia’s upper house of parliament.
Putin says he proposed military action because of “the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation”.
Russia’s upper house of parliament will ask President Putin to recall Moscow’s
ambassador from the United States, the chamber’s speaker said on Saturday.
There are thought to be up to 15,000 Russian soldiers stationed in the republic.
Acting president of Ukraine, Oleksander Turchynov, has now called an emergency meeting of security chiefs.
Russia has a major naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. The lease stipulates personnel are not allowed to take military equipment or vehicles outside the base without Ukrainian permission.
Turchynov had previously warned that any move by Russian troops off of this base would “be considered a military aggression”.
However, Russia claims it is acting legally, within the perimeters of its constitution.
Russia’s defence laws state military action can be taken overseas if it is to “protect Russian citizens”.
Around 60 percent of Crimea’s 2.3 million inhabitants identify themselves as ethnic Russians and speak Russian.
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