Kerry: Ukraine Crisis Could ‘Get Ugly Fast’

But the secretary holds out hope that tensions can be drawn down.

Anti-government stand behind a 'wall of smoke' during clashes with police in the center of Kiev on February 20, 2014.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 12, 2014, 11:21 a.m.

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 »
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

Source:
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Senators Looking to Limit Deportations Under Trump
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.

Source:
REQUIRES CHANGE IN LAW
Trump Taps Mattis for Defense Secretary
2 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.

Source:
MEASURE HEADED TO OBAMA
Senate OKs 10-Year Extension of Iran Sanctions
2 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login