Tensions in the Ukraine just keep escalating. Although President Obama warned Russia not to send troops, Vladimir Putin today got official permission to do just that. The Russian president asked parliament to let him send forces to the "territory of Ukraine" to protect ethnic Russians in the region of Crimea and possibly elsewhere, reports AP. And in a not-so-surprising development, lawmakers agreed unanimously, reports CNN. Earlier, the pro-Russian prime minister of Crimea had made a formal request of his own for Putin's help. The Ukraine government in Kiev, meanwhile, says Russia already has sent 6,000 troops to Crimea, even if it hasn't acknowledged as much, reports the BBC.
The upshot is that "the Black Sea peninsula appeared to slip beyond Kiev's control," says Reuters. And it quotes one political analyst who says "the scenario of Crimea's withdrawal (from Ukraine) has been accelerated." Soldiers presumed to be either part of the Russian military or at least backed by the military control the airports, government buildings, and the main communications center in Crimea. Airspace around the main airport in Simferopol has been shut down. (Read more Ukraine stories.)