Mar 1, 2014 10:24 AM by NBC News
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking parliamentary approval for a military intervention in Ukraine, according to a Kremlin statement Saturday.
Putin said the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine's strategic region of Crimea.
It was not clear if military action was imminent or 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."
The request, made to the Russian Senate, follows a letter from the Upper House to Putin appealing for the same.
The statement said: "Due to the extraordinary situation in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of Russian citizens and compatriots, and the personnel staff of Russia's military forces based in Ukraine (Crimea), according to international agreement ... I submit a request to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for the use of military forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine until the social and political situation in the country normalizes."
Earlier Saturday, Ukraine accused Russia of sending 6,000 additional troops into Crimea Saturday, deepening a crisis in which both sides accused each other of trying to destabilize the region.