Russia executed a de facto military takeover of a strategic region in Ukraine as the parliament in Moscow gave President Vladimir Putin a green light Saturday to proceed to protect Russian interests. The newly installed government in Kiev was powerless to react to the swift takeover of Crimea by Russian troops already in Ukraine and more flown in, aided by pro-Russian Ukrainian groups.
Ukraine's interim president put the country's military on combat alert, while the country's prime minister said a Russian military intervention would lead to war and the country's foreign minister asked foreign powers to help protect the country's territory.
In the wake of the vote Putin and President Barack Obama held a 90-minute call. The Kremlin said that Russia reserved the right to protect its interests and those of Russian speakers in the case of violence in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The White House said Obama expressed the sense that Russia's actions were a "clear violation" of Ukrainian sovereignty.
"The United States will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8. Going forward, Russia's continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation," the White House said.