The Federal Council (Russia’s upper chamber of parliament, yesterday unanimously authorized the use of the Russian armed forces for “peacekeeping mission” in Ukraine’s breakaway regions.

The council made the decision after President Vladimir Putin asked the body's permission to use the military abroad, specifically in the breakaway regions of Ukraine’s Donbas region that Russia on Monday recognized as “independent.”

Russian media reports say that speaking to the chamber, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pavlov made it clear that permission is necessary to organize what Russia calls “peacekeeping missions” in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The council voted unanimously in favor of authorization.

The decision would take immediate effect, senior legislator Andrei Klishas told the chamber.

“By approving the use of the armed forces abroad, we assume they will be peacekeeping forces – forces designed to maintain peace and stability in the [self-proclaimed east Ukrainian] republics,” Valentina Matviyenko, the upper chamber’s speaker, said before the vote.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the East-West faceoff over Ukraine escalated dramatically Tuesday, with Russian lawmakers authorizing President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside Russia and U.S. President Joe Biden and European leaders responding by slapping sanctions on Russian oligarchs and banks.

Both leaders reportedly signaled that an even bigger confrontation could lie ahead.  Putin has yet to unleash the force of the 150,000 troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, while Biden held back on even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia but said they would go ahead if there is further aggression.

The measures, accompanied by the repositioning of additional U.S. troops to the Baltic nations on NATO’s eastern flank bordering Russia, came as Russian forces rolled into separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin said he was recognizing the independence of the separatist regions in defiance of U.S. and European demands, according to AP.

Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions - collectively known as the Donbass - broke away from Ukrainian government control in 2014 and proclaimed themselves independent “people's republics”, until now unrecognized.  Since then, Ukraine says about 15,000 people have been killed in fighting.  Russia denies being a party to the conflict but has backed the separatists in numerous ways, including through covert military support, financial aid, supplies of COVID-19 vaccines and the issue of at least 800,000 Russian passports to residents.  Moscow has always denied planning to invade Ukraine.