Secretary of State John Kerry warned Wednesday that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine could “get ugly fast if the wrong choices are made. And it can get ugly in multiple directions.”
Kerry’s comments came as part of his testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee about the department’s fiscal 2015 budget request.
And, not surprisingly, Ukraine quickly came up.
Republican Rep. Kay Granger, the chairwoman of the the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, said in her opening statement that “the situation continues with no resolution in sight” despite Kerry’s work.
But the secretary is prepared to try, and try again. He announced he’ll travel to London on Friday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after a series of phone calls. The meeting comes two days before an expected Crimean referendum.
“Nothing justifies a military intervention that the world has witnessed. There are many other legitimate ways to address Russia’s concerns,” Kerry said during Wednesday’s hearing. But he added that the administration recognizes “Russia has interests in Crimea.”
The administration has already announced it will issue visa bans and fiscal sanctions against individuals it believes are responsible for the crisis in Crimea and for undermining the Ukrainian government.
But Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said he, like many members of Congress, believes that further sanctions are necessary, adding, “It’s clear that they’re going forward with the referendum, and probably annexation, under the barrel of a gun.”
And while Kerry was hesitant to outline what further steps the administration could take, he noted, “Russia has challenges of its own, and I’m not sure they need to have the kind of economic constraints that may be following, depending on the decisions they make.”
Congressional Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for playing what they view as a weak foreign policy hand in response not only on Russia’s incursion into Crimea, but also on Syria, the Iran negotiations, and a nuclear-weapons treaty that was part of a broad effort to restart U.S.-Russian relations.
But Kerry pressed back on that narrative, saying: “The reset with Russia was not just a pushing of a button and saying, ‘Oh, everything is going to be terrific.’ The reset was an effort to find those things we could cooperate on, understanding, of course, that with Russia, we’re going to have major kinds of philosophical “¦ differences.”
What We're Following See More »
After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."
Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."