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Russian lawmakers authorise Putin to use force outside country

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A view of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation stand for the national anthem during a session in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday. Lawmakers gave Russian President Vladimir Putin permission to use military force outside the country.

RUSSIA,US,: Russian lawmakers on Tuesday authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside the country — a move that could presage a broader attack on Ukraine after the U.S. said an invasion was already underway there.

Members of Russia’s Upper House, the Federation Council, voted unanimously to allow Putin to use military force outside the country — effectively formalizing a Russian military deployment to the rebel regions, where an eight-year conflict has killed nearly 14,000 people.

Several European leaders said Russian troops rolled into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin recognized their independence. But it was unclear how large the deployment was, and Ukraine and its Western allies have long said Russian troops were fighting in the region, allegations that Moscow always denied.

Shortly after, Putin laid out three conditions to end the crisis that has threatened to plunge Europe back into war, raising the specter of massive casualties, energy shortages across the continent and economic chaos around the globe.

Putin said the crisis could be resolved if Kyiv recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, renounces its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarizes. The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO. Asked whether he has sent any Russian troops into Ukraine and how far they could go, Putin responded: “I haven’t said that the troops will go there right now.”

He added coyly that “it’s impossible to forecast a specific pattern of action –- it will depend on a concrete situation as it takes shape on the ground.”

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Tuesday the United States would continue to supply “defensive” weapons to Ukraine against a Russian invasion and deploy US troops to reinforce NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

“I have authorized additional movements of US forces and equipment, already stationed in Europe, to strengthen our Baltic allies, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,” Biden said in a televised speech at the White House. “Let me be clear, these are totally defensive moves on our part.”

After Biden spoke the Pentagon announced details of the move. It said it would reposition 800 troops in an infantry battalion task force from Italy to the Baltic region and up to eight F-35 Strike fighter jets from Germany to “several operating locations along NATO’s eastern flank.”

Twenty AH-64 attack helicopters were to be moved from Germany to the Baltic area and 12 more would be relocated from Greece to Poland. The steps would bolster the now more than 90,000 US troops temporarily or permanently deployed in Europe.

Western nations and Japan have punished Russia with new sanctions for ordering troops into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine and threatened to go further if Moscow launched an all-out invasion of its neighbour.

The United States, the European Union, Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan announced plans to target banks and elites while Germany halted a major gas pipeline project from Russia in one of the worst security crises in Europe in decades. – THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, THE BANGKOK POST

Thursday, February 24, 2022 – 01:00

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