March 2nd, 2014
01:34 PM ET
8 months ago

Kerry rebukes Russia's 'incredible act of aggression' in move into Ukraine

Updated 9:15 a.m. ET, 3/3/2014

(CNN) - Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday sharply denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin's "stunning, willful" actions in Crimea, characterizing the move as an "invasion" and saying “all options are on the table” as far as a U.S. response.

"You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," Kerry said, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation."

International leaders prepare to 'isolate' Russia

In interviews with three U.S. television networks on Sunday, Kerry also said foreign leaders are prepared to put sanctions in place to "isolate Russia economically" if Putin does not roll back his forces in Crimea, an autonomous region of eastern Ukraine with strong loyalty to neighboring Russia. He said options could include visa bans, asset freezes and isolation by the international community on trade and investment, as well as Russia losing its spot in the G8.

"The G8 plus some others and all of them, every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion," he said on CBS.

Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday the best leverage the U.S. can exert for now is "financial."

"The Achilles Heel for Russia is their economy–the ruble," the California Republican said on CNN's "New Day."

"We have to lead and we have to rally Europe around a series of steps that would actually impact the Russians economically: sanctions against state-owned banks," he added.

Obama on Ukraine: The U.S. is 'deeply concerned'

Kerry said Sunday that there are still plausible alternatives available to Putin, telling ABC that Russia could work toward a diplomatic solution with the U.S. and the United Nations, and could call for observers to be put in Ukraine.

"There are all kinds of alternatives. But Russia has chosen this aggressive act which really puts in question Russia's role in the world, and Russia's willingness to be a modern nation and part of the G8," Kerry said on ABC's "This Week."

Kerry condemns Russia's 'invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory'

Kerry said that while the U.S. is keeping its options open, escalated military involvement would "not serve the world well."

"The last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of situation," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Will Putin heed Obama's warning?

Putin's military moves in Crimea further stress already weakened ties between the U.S. and Russia.

In a lengthy phone call with Putin over the weekend, Obama condemned the Russian leader's actions in Crimea, saying that Putin is in violation of international law, according to the White House. The administration announced it would suspend participation in preparatory meetings for the G8 summit that will bring world leaders together in June in Sochi, Russia.

"President Obama wants to emphasize to the Russians that there are a right set of choices that can still be made to address any concerns they have about Crimea, about their citizens, but you don't choose to invade a country in order to do that," Kerry said on CBS.

Asked what impact, if any, Obama's call had on Putin's mindset going forward in the crisis, the secretary of state said, "We are going to have to wait and see, but I think it was a very important conversation."

Kerry repeated that Putin's actions are "unacceptable" and could bring "serious repercussions" if they continue.

He called on Congress to help implement a series of economic sanctions against Russia aimed at helping Ukraine, an idea that has gained traction on both sides of the aisle as a bipartisan group of 12 senators from the Foreign Relations Committee expressed support for U.S. assistance in the crisis.

Partisan split on Obama's response to Russia

Speaking at the White House on Friday, Obama warned that Russia should not use military force to change the fate of Ukraine, underscoring the need for Ukrainian independence.

Republicans call on Obama to act on Ukraine

Lawmakers were split, unsurprisingly down party lines, on the effectiveness of Obama's public rebuke of the Russian president.

"I think Putin is playing chess and we're playing marbles," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said on "Fox News Sunday."

"They've really been running circles around us. And I think it's really the naive position on the National Security Council and the President's advisers that if we just keep giving things to Russia, they'll wake up and say, 'Well, the United States isn't all that bad.' That is completely missing the motivations of why Russia does what it does," the Michigan Republican added.

Lawmakers call for suspension of Russia from G8, swift action against Putin

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" that Obama needed to offer more than just threats as Putin ramps up military involvement in Crimea.

Democrats quickly rose to Obama's defense.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, also appearing in Fox, said that critics should concentrate their attacks on Putin, not Obama.

"We're 48 hours into an international crisis. I would hope Americans are focused on condemning the actions of Putin rather than in a knee-jerk way again criticizing the President of the United States. Let's stand together on this," the Maryland Democrat said.


Filed under: Chris Van Hollen • John Kerry • Lindsey Graham • Mike Rogers • President Obama • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (294 Responses)
  1. bill

    "Gov. Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al-Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaida. You said Russia ... the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama said.

    March 2, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. James

    Well thats bs. Russia is endangering russians in Crimea by putting troops there. What a solidly stupid justification.

    March 2, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Jerry Rundstrom

    I'm no Democrat BUT, I agree with Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
    I live in Kiev. I see what a lack of unity has done to this country. The problem at the moment is Putin, not Obama's response.

    March 2, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. anonymous

    Kerry.... "Naughty Putin, naughty! We are going to give you a time out."

    Obama... "I'm really really disturbed."

    That pretty much says it all. Ukraine, you are on your own.

    March 2, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Jackola

    The statement “All options are on the table” usually means that the speaker has no options other than doing nothing.

    March 2, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. just saying

    neville chamberlain speaks... we can all now sleep better tonight as the obama administration and hillary clinton hit the reset button with russia and all is well. seems we reset back to the days of the soviet union though. clueless naive obama and clinton. bears don't do the reset thing, they prowl and feed on neighbors.

    March 2, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. M Fields

    John Kerry says "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," Didn't we do the same thing in Iraq? Maybe the Russians have "information" indicating that there are weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine. Let's please have the good sense to stay out of this one, please.

    March 2, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Bob

    'Stunning and willful acts in the Crimea'. Mr Kerry seems to have a very short memory. Iraq, of no interest to the US, no threat to the US and with none of our civilians/ethnically and culturally similar peoples in any way caught up – yet we invaded and created the catastrophe we now see ( plus are directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of plus half a million people ). Ditto Libya – now an exporter of terrorism ( whatever one thought of Gadaffi, he was better than AQ ). Additionally, every time we launch a drone strike across national borders we are committing an act of aggression/invasion of another country – and sadly we often seem to target for precision killing civilians. With our kind of record it would be better if Kerry kept quiet.

    March 2, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. menisino

    This is a recording..."all options are on the table" ,

    March 2, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Richard Hode

    "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," Kerry said.

    What an incredible hypocrite., What about Iraq? We went halfway across the planet to attack Iraq on the pretext of WMD which were lies all the way. Kerry's hypocrisy is breathtaking.

    March 2, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. Sal

    There are no good options. 

    March 2, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. Jim C

    My sympathies to the Ukrainian people, and to the Russian people who need to wake up and have their own Russian Spring!
    If you have not considered the similarities between the Russian Dictator Putin and the former German dictator Hitler then consider for a moment.
    • Both hosted the Olympics to show their country's "goodness" prior to invading a neighboring country
    • Both invaded neighbors claiming they were saving their own people
    • Both were elected democratically but became dictators – refusing to give up power
    • Both imprisoned their opposition
    • Both were Homophobic
    • Both stirred the nationalistic prejudices of their native peoples
    If we don't see these dangerous parallels of the past we need to wake up
    Putin is a world leader that tells everyone to stay out of Syria and then ships weapons to Syria, sells Nuclear technology to Iran.
    Putin is corrupt with power to the core of his being and if you don't think he's the worlds next Hitler i suggest you look real hard.
    And to the Russian people – while we know you're not all like Putin, you need to decide who you want to be – are you with Putin and his power grab or are you for freedom – decide this before the world decides it for you – as WWIII is at your feat – and in the west we say your either part of the solution or you're the problem. We hope the Russian people are the solution.
    Rise up Russia – Have your Russian Spring – claim your place in the free world – throw off the KGB dictator and its dominance in your politics.
    Alternatively you could support Putin and his invasion – but if that's your choice then sadly you will lose this battle – first your navy and then air force, in the end your army will suffer defeat as well, your economy – you will be beggars, and your missile silos and the old MAD theory? we got that covered as well – those missiles and there nuclear poison will explode over Russian lands – not the west.

    March 2, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. joe

    Kerry: 'All option are on the table'..that's a joke.. more and more............................

    March 2, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. allenwoll

    Airdrop selected GoPers on Moscow 'til they give up their aggression ! !

    March 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. steve

    The obama administration has no credibility.

    March 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    Let EU deal this stuff, we have potholes to fix here.

    March 2, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. Dr Rob Lee

    Game over Ukraine. Obama neutered the US to fulfill his America-hating father's dream of taking us down many notches as punishment for our past evil arrogance. He sat silently in tacit agreement as his reverend Wright preached after 9/11 that "America's chickens have finally come home to roost". He was awarded the Nobel "peace" medal way in advance by far-left Europe who were happy to see America finally cut down to size. We are no longer a superpower headed by a true leader or statesmen. Our military has just been cut to below WWII levels. Expect empty words from Obama & Kerry as they create a vacuum about to be filled by neo-Soviet dictator Putin, China, the ayatollahs & that lunatic in N. Korea. Our days of world leadership are far behind us. Our allies respect nor trust us nor do our enemies fear us. Haters of democracy, like Putin & the ayatollahs, laugh out loud & spit in our faces as we spew empty condemnations & threats. For lovers & believers in freedom here in America who sadly watch as your brief encounter with democracy disintegrates in the shadow of Russian guns we send you our condolences. We wanted change and we sure got it...Big Time.

    March 2, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. eddie murphy

    woah................

    WW III anyone?

    March 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. George

    "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," Kerry said, What hypocrisy, after the invasion of Iraq by the United States of America on a completely trumped up pretext. Shame on you Sec. Kerry, and I feel sorry for such ignorance but also endangered by it.

    March 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. Ted van Tol

    I dont't like this policy of Russia at all but.........hear who's talking! The USA invaded so many countrys leaving a trace of killings and traumas. Suported so many dictators inc. Sadam Hussein, Taliban etc. Please America, here the pot is calling the kettle black.

    March 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. derykhouston

    Does Kerry have any idea of how hypocritical his statements sound. Really? The USA has not invaded other countries for "trumped up reasons". Has he forgotten the weapons of mass destruction claims in Iraq?
    It is an unbelievable statement and it reveals to me that we have idiots in charge of the White House.
    It is hard to believe that he could make that statement without blushing. Clearly the US has no idea how it has robbed Russia several times over the past few years. Here is one example out of many: Russia lost billions of trade deals with Iraq that it had signed just previous to the last invasion. I was there and witnessed that mess.
    International law has been made a mockery of by the USA and now we will have to live with that.

    March 2, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. George

    We have idiots governing the U.S.

    March 2, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Ken

    'You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," Kerry said, appearing on CBS's ' Face the Nation
    Did he say it about US invasion in Iraq or Afganistan?
    Oh, he just has very short memory, he completely has forgoten about US troops in Iraq and Afganistan.

    March 2, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. derykhouston

    Does Kerry have any idea of how hypocritical his statements sound. Really? The USA has not invaded other countries for "trumped up reasons". Has he forgotten the weapons of mass destruction claims in Iraq?
    It is an unbelievable statement and it reveals to me that we have idiots in charge of the White House.
    It is hard to believe that he could make that statement without blushing. Clearly the US has no idea how it has robbed Russia several times over the past few years. Here is one example out of many: Russia lost billions of trade deals with Iraq that it had signed just previous to the last invasion. I was there and witnessed that mess.
    International law has been made a mockery of by the USA and now we will have to live with that.
    It is scary to think that someone like Kerry is the thin dividing line between us and possible world war three when he shows such stupidity.

    March 2, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. kelownahombre

    Kerry: "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext."

    Somebody needs to send the U.S. Secretary of State a copy of the 2007 book, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War", by American journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

    March 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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