Mar. 1 - Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively wrests control of Crimea from Kiev, as Russia’s parliament votes to approve sending troops into the region citing security interests. Mana Rabiee reports.
The crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate. Crimean TV shows a military convoy, which it says may have been Russian, traveling late Friday night around the Crimean provincial capital Simferopol. And on Saturday, Russia's parliament votes to send troops into Crimea, the region with an ethnic Russian majority. Russia cited a threat to its citizens and to servicemen of the Russian Black Sea fleet based in Crimea. The move means Russian President Vladimir Putin has effectively wrested control of Crimea from Kiev, Ukraine's central government. In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concern over destabilization in Ukraine. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "We are concerned about what is happening on the Crimea. What we have learnt from history is that conflicts must be solved peacefully and diplomatically." European Union commission president Jose Manuel Barroso took a less diplomatic tone. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, SAYING: "We were yesterday struck by the reports of the violation of Ukraine sovereignty. These are events that we would consider unthinkable in the 21st century in the European continent." Also on Saturday, a shootout took place between two armed groups in Crimea's Simferopol. And pro-Russian armed men calling themselves the Crimean Front seized a media center in the city. Putin said on Saturday he's not decided whether or not he'll actually send in his troops. A Kremlin spokesman said Moscow hopes there'll be no further escalation.