Putin comments on how far Russian troops could go amid Ukraine crisis

The scope of the army’s involvement fully depends on the ongoing situation in Donbass, the Russian president has said

The extent of the Russian military’s action in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian republics of Donetsk and Lugansk hinges on the developing situation on the ground, President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Tuesday, after the country’s Senate granted him the right to deploy troops abroad.

Speaking to the media minutes after the upper chamber of the Russian parliament backed his request for military deployments, Putin received a question from a journalist on just how far Moscow’s troops are prepared to go.

In his response, Putin stopped short of confirming whether any Russian forces have already been ordered to the Donbass. The Senate speaker, Valentina Matvienko, earlier suggested that the troops could take on the role of peacekeepers there.

“I’m not saying that the troops will be deployed there right after our meeting,” the president said.

It is effectively impossible to predict any specific scope of potential actions. It depends on the specific situation that is developing there, on the ground.

Russia’s Federation Council granted Putin the right to use the country’s military abroad earlier on Tuesday, with Matvienko backing the unanimous vote with the suggestion the troops would “create normal conditions for people’s lives and ensure security” in the Donbass.

The wording of the legislature’s resolution is non-specific, saying the troops can be used “in accordance with the Constitution,” with the “areas of their activity, their goals, length of stay outside Russia” to be decided by the president.

The permission came a day after Moscow opted for recognition of the breakaway Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics in Ukraine’s east. The DPR and the LPR broke away from Kiev in 2014 after the Maidan events and the West-backed coup. The Kremlin insists the move is necessary to protect the civilian population, accusing Kiev of showing no willingness to end the years-long civil conflict through negotiations and instead opting to retake the republics by force.

Kiev maintains it has not been seeking to attack its own regions, while top western officials and media have repeatedly claimed that Russia has been preparing an all-out ‘invasion’ of Ukraine, a charge Moscow has rejected as “fake news.”

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