Russian parliament revokes option to invade Ukraine
Russia's upper chamber of parliament on Wednesday voted to scrap an earlier resolution allowing President Vladimir Putin to send troops into Ukraine, in a move Moscow says will help the peace process.
Only one senator voted against Putin's Tuesday proposal to rescind the March 1 decision granting him the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers, while 153 voted in favour.
The shock reversal by the Kremlin strongman was welcomed by Kiev and its Western allies who have threatened Russia with a slew of tougher sanctions over its alleged backing of the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
But scepticism persists over how genuine Moscow's peace efforts are as fighting rumbles on in conflict-hit Ukraine despite pro-Russian rebels agreeing to a temporary government ceasefire.
Russia's rubber-stamp Federation Council took the decision to revoke the permission with no debate, and chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko appeared momentarily shocked when the flashing result showed one dissenting voice.
"The President has... enough options for day-to-day influence in Ukraine," said the head of the legislative body's defence committee Viktor Ozerov.
If the need comes once again for "military means", the senators are "ready to look at such propositions," he assured.
Putin asked the Federation Council to approve possible military action on March 1, referring to a perceived "threat to the lives of Russian citizens," particularly on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
The lawmakers convened in an extraordinary session just hours later and gave their unanimous green light.
By the end of the month, Russian troops had deployed across Crimea and helped organise a referendum that paved the way for the region's annexation by Moscow.
"Life has proven that our decision was correct," Ozerov said, "Crimea today... is reunited with Russia."
© 2014 AFP