Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a high-level security meeting with top officials in the country hours after Moscow's reported deployment of vessels in the autonomous Crimea region in Ukraine further raising the stakes in the geo-political crisis.
Putin's spokesperson said the security meeting was a scheduled event but admitted the Ukraine crisis dominated the discussions.
The meeting was attended by the who's who of Russian polity including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Kremlin administration head Sergei Ivanov.
The speakers of both the lower and upper parliament were also present at the meeting and so were the chiefs of both the domestic and foreign intelligence agencies.
Putin has so far not openly commented on the Ukrainian political turmoil which culminated in the exit of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, often seen as Moscow's puppet.
Russian officials have denounced the interim administration, saying the events taking place in Ukraine are the handiwork of "extremists" and "terrorists".
The meeting comes close on the heels of Russia's reported deployment of military vessels, with troops onboard, in Ukraine's Crimea region amidst swirling speculation about possible intervention by Russia.
The US has reiterated its warning over Russia's military involvement in the ongoing crisis. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: "National Security Advisor [Susan] Rice said yesterday in that [Russia's intervention] that would certainly be inadvisable. It wouldn't be a step that we think is in – not just in the interests of the people of the Ukraine but the interest of Russia."
What was seen as Russia's excessive influence on the Ukraine government was among the key factors in the three-month-long anti-government protests, largely led by pro-EU demonstrators, in the former Soviet nation.