Russia could send troops to Crimea: upper house speaker

1st March 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia could send a "limited contingent" of troops to the Ukrainian region of Crimea to assure the security of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and its citizens, the speaker of the upper house of parliament said Saturday.

"It is possible in this situation... to send a limited contingent of troops to ensure the security of the Black Sea Fleet and Russian citizens," said Federation Council chief Valentina Matviyenko, in theory Russia's number three figure after the president and the prime minister.

"The decision lies with the president of our country, the commander in chief (Vladimir Putin). But looking at the situation today, such a scenario cannot be excluded. We have to protect people," she said.

Her comments were the first time a Russian official has directly spoken of sending Russian troops into Crimea.

She said that Ukraine is home to a "huge number of dangerous objects", including nuclear power stations, that need protection.

"It is necessary to ensure the security and protection of these objects in order not to allow a greater tragedy," she added.

Putin should use "all possible measures" to ensure the security of Russian citizens and help the "brotherly" Ukrainian people achieve stabilisation, she added.

Matviyenko slammed the new authorities in Kiev who took over after the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych, saying they had allowed and encouraged anarchy and terror to take root.

"This is an extraordinary situation which requires decisive measures," she said in comments broadcast on state television.

"There is a real threat to the lives of Russian citizens living in Ukraine and our (Black Sea Fleet) servicemen" who are based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

"Russia cannot not be involved."

She said that there was no use employing "high level political-diplomatic culture" to deal with the new Ukrainian authorities as "it is not appreciated there".

© 2014 AFP

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