John Kerry Gives a Major Warning to Russia on Ukraine

The secretary of State came out strongly against Russia’s actions in the last week.

US Secretary of State John Kerry pauses as he delivers a speech on climate change in Jakarta on February 16, 2014. Kerry will on February 16 issue a clarion call for the world to do to more to combat climate change, warning the planet is being pushed to 'a tipping point of no return'. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
April 24, 2014, 2:41 p.m.

Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry is not pleased with what Rus­sia is do­ing in Ukraine. And in a state­ment Thursday night, he made his dis­pleas­ure clear.

Rus­sia, Kerry said, is not keep­ing its word. “Hav­ing failed to halt a le­git­im­ate polit­ic­al pro­cess,” he said, “Rus­sia has in­stead chosen an il­le­git­im­ate, co­er­cive armed vi­ol­ence to try to achieve — with the bar­rel of a gun and the force of the mob — what could not be achieved any oth­er way.”

The Geneva agree­ment reached one week ago between rep­res­ent­at­ives of Rus­sia, the United States, Ukraine, and the European Uni­on had four ma­jor points. It said that all sides must re­frain from vi­ol­ence; that il­leg­ally armed groups in Ukraine have to give up their weapons; that gov­ern­ment build­ings in­side Ukraine’s bor­der that had been seized by pro-Rus­si­an forces had to be re­turned to Ukrain­i­an con­trol; and that pro­test­ers who com­ply with these de­mands would be gran­ted am­nesty so long as they did not com­mit cap­it­al crimes.

“The Geneva agree­ment is not open to in­ter­pret­a­tion,” Kerry said Thursday night. “It is not vague, it is not sub­ject­ive, it is not op­tion­al.”

“For sev­en days,” he later said, “Rus­sia has re­fused to take a single con­crete step in the right dir­ec­tion.”

“The win­dow to change course is clos­ing,” Kerry said. And the United States is “ready to act.”

Kerry re­vealed Thursday that U.S. in­tel­li­gence has found that Rus­sia’s “in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and spe­cial op­er­at­ors and mil­it­ary in­tel­li­gence are play­ing an act­ive role in destabil­iz­ing east­ern Ukraine with per­son­nel.”

“If Rus­sia con­tin­ues in this dir­ec­tion, it will not just be a grave mis­take,” Kerry said. “It will be an ex­pens­ive mis­take.” It’s not clear right now how the U.S. would go about ful­filling that prom­ise.

Earli­er Thursday, Pres­id­ent Obama said that new eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Rus­sia were “teed up,” but that he un­der­stands that “ad­di­tion­al sanc­tions may not change Mr. Putin’s cal­cu­lus.”

Re­gard­less of the sanc­tions’ pos­sible util­ity, Ukraine def­in­itely is hop­ing for an­oth­er hit from the United States. “We have to do everything pos­sible to stop the ag­gres­sion,” Ukrain­i­an Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Danylo Lub­k­visky said Thursday, in a plea to the U.S. and Europe to en­act more sanc­tions.

Mean­while, the situ­ation in Ukraine is get­ting in­creas­ingly tense. Rus­sia is be­gin­ning new mil­it­ary ex­er­cises on its side of the bor­der with Ukraine, and as many as five pro-Rus­si­an act­iv­ists were re­portedly killed in east­ern Ukraine Thursday.

Rus­sia, pre­dict­ably, isn’t tak­ing the re­por­ted deaths lightly. “If the Kiev re­gime has star­ted to use the army against the pop­u­la­tion in­side the coun­try, it, bey­ond any doubt, is a very ser­i­ous crime,” Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin said at a me­dia for­um Thursday.

And Rus­sia isn’t the only coun­try try­ing to send a sig­nal with mil­it­ary ex­er­cises in the area right now. A con­tin­gent of U.S. troops landed in Po­land this week for mil­it­ary ex­er­cises of its own.

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