Obama in 'direct' confrontation with Putin over Ukraine

A pro-Russian supporter waves a Russian flag in front of pro-Russian armed men in military fatigues blocking the base of the Ukrainian frontier guards, in Balaklava, a small city not far from Sevastopol, on March 1, 2014The heart of Kiev braced Sunday for a monster protest after Russian President Vladimir Putin won the green light from parliament to invade Ukraine and was immediately warned by Washington that he was violating international law. The stark escalation in what threatens to become the worst crisis in relations between Moscow and the West since the Cold War came as Kalashnikov-wielding militia hoisted the Russian flag over Crimean government buildings and seized control of the Black Sea peninsula’s airports. Putin said in a Kremlin statement that he was responsible for the safety of ethnic Russians on the Black Sea peninsula — home to Kremlin navies for nearly 250 years — and southeastern swathes of Ukraine with ancient ties to Moscow that look on Kiev’s new pro-EU leaders with disdain.

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