(MOSCOW) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin asked and received approval from the upper house of Russia's parliament to deploy Russian troops in the Crimea region of Ukraine on Saturday.
The parliament had earlier discussed means of "stabilizing" the situation in Crimea, an area of Ukraine where many ethnic Russians live. Meanwhile, BBC News says, the Ukrainian government in Kiev has accused Putin of attempting to provoke confrontation.
Putin made the request after the newly-elected --and pro-Russian -- leader of Crimea asked for assistance keeping the peace.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the approval came just hours after Putin made a formal request for troop deployment. BBC News says that the approval does not specify troop deployment can only take place in Crimea, meaning Russian troops could be deployed in other pro-Russian areas of Ukraine.
Putin's spokesperson told state-run media that the Russian president "has not yet decided" whether he will send Russian troops into Ukraine.
The Russian parliament also recommended that Putin recall the Russian ambassador to the United States, BBC News says.
In recent days, unidentified armed men took over the region's central parliament building and a number of airports in Crimea. On Friday, airspace over Crimea's capital, Simferopol, was closed.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement on Friday that he had warned Putin that there "will be costs" if Russia intervenes militarily in the Ukrainian situation.
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