MOSCOW (AP) — Western leaders say that Russian troops have moved into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin’s recognized their independence. But some indicated it was not yet the long-feared full-fledged invasion as confusion reigned in the region.
Russia’s upper house of parliament has given Putin permission to use military force outside the country. That could presage a broader attack on Ukraine after the U.S. said an invasion was already underway there Tuesday.
For weeks, Western powers have been bracing for an invasion as Russia massed an estimated 150,000 troops on three sides of neighboring Ukraine. They warned an attack would cause massive casualties, energy shortages in Europe and economic chaos around the globe.
On Monday, Putin recognized as independent two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin raised the stakes further Tuesday by saying that recognition extends to parts held by Ukrainian forces.