Putin ready to invade Ukraine; Kiev warns of war

n13-iconReuters reports: 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.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, leading a government that took power after Moscow’s ally Viktor Yanukovich fled a week ago, said Russian military action “would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia”.

Acting President Oleksander Turchinov ordered troops to be placed on high combat alert. Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said he had met European and U.S. officials and sent a request to NATO to “examine all possibilities to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”. [Continue reading…]

I guess Russia’s move will render most of the anti-interventionists mute since the only interventions anyone feels moved to speak out against are those backed by the United States. “Down with American intervention!” “Intervention by anyone else — who cares?”

AFP adds: On Kiev’s now iconic Independence Square, bare-chested Cossacks fiercely beat the war drums: Ukrainian authorities have just put the army on high alert in the face of a threat of a Russian invasion.

“They have de facto declared war on us,” former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko shouts to a crowd of thousands on the central stage nearby, not far from where dozens of anti-government protesters fell under the bullets of riot police last week in bloodshed that precipitated the fall of Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

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