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
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Matt Berman
April 24, 2014, 2:41 p.m.

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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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