March 2nd, 2014
01:34 PM ET
7 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. ricke1949

    When you plant a tree, you do not see the fruit the next day. The produce from the Obama-Hillary foreign policy is starting to come to market.

    March 3, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. Jodo

    obama and Kerry continue to make empty, vacuous threats; and so doing, they embarrass the nation.

    obama has turned the world's only remaining superpower into a 3rd rate bannana dictatorship.

    March 3, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. ELMO

    Beware of playing chess with Russians.

    March 3, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  4. NewIdeas

    Rep Van Hollen says that people should focus on criticizing Putin, and not blame Obama.

    The U.S. relationship with Russia has always been a long-term process. They can't be reasoned with using just words and promises. It takes a give & take from a position of strength. And it takes a determined President with a long-term plan to maintain a strong bargaining position to keep Russia in line.

    March 3, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. FRussia

    We need to show the Russians that we mean business. If this president is too weak to lead then is time to get someone else. We cannot show weakness in the presence of such aggression.

    March 3, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. MBH

    Putin enjoys a luxury that our President does not - he has the luxury of time and no viable political opposition within his own country. Our Presidents take office and immediately go back into campaign mode for the duration of their first terms, then do a bit of legacy-building in their second terms and help prop up their party for the next presidential election. As a result, Putin can plan his chess moves 4, 5, 6 turns in advance. Our President doesn't have that ability (not because he is incapable, but because he's got so little time left, and his advisers are more worried about the next poll and the mid-term elections than Ukrainians' right to self-determination). This is just a reflection on an inherent weakness in our system of governance made worse by the hyper-partisan politicking done by our "representatives" in Washington.

    March 3, 2014 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  7. critical thinking

    Be watchful of how China behaves. If they show a strong backing of this Russian move, then we are done as the Leadership in the world. But in my opinion, that is what Obama wants for the US. He is not comfortable in leading and doesn't want the US to be the worlds solution when trouble comes.

    March 3, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. mat

    Sorry guys but Bush had a UN resolution (Sadam could have allowed the inspectors)and a coalation of nations in the Iraq invasion. Lying about it wont make it true no matter who much you want to believe it. And Putin knew very well Bush couldn't move on Georgia since he had a very short time left in office. The Georgian pres was reaching out to John Mccain in in the news briefs, never once to Obama. But im sure the dems will criticize even though they are the reason we held our hand. Bush wasn't about to send in more troops anywhere when he new very well the dems would simply try to blackmail him with funding the troops for their own special intrest money. You should look at how much the dems extracted in payouts so we could support the troops the way we needed to when you start crying about war expenses. Putin owns Obama and will own Hillary too.

    March 3, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. mat

    "All options are open" is another lie.

    March 3, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. Enough is Enough

    Hey Obama and Kerry – perhaps you should call Palin, McCain and Romney – they appear to have a much better grasp of international politics than you two do. And the progressive left will continue to call conservatives stupid and uneducated....never let facts get in the way of an opinion, eh?

    March 3, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. Humbrrto

    How come nothing on what happened during the Civil.War of 1875 today by you Jim Crow panelists ?

    March 3, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Fair is Fair

    critical thinking

    Be watchful of how China behaves. If they show a strong backing of this Russian move, then we are done as the Leadership in the world. But in my opinion, that is what Obama wants for the US. He is not comfortable in leading and doesn't want the US to be the worlds solution when trouble comes.
    --------
    Yeah, you're right. China's watching. And licking their chops as they look at Taiwan.

    March 3, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Abbey

    Kerry sends a selfie to Putin....and the Russians are laughing at it right this moment!

    Boy did the country avoid a nightmare when this guy failed to get elected!

    March 3, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Fair is Fair

    So is this the result of Obama's "flexibility" or Clinton's busted reset button?

    March 3, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. tom l

    I think the most ironic thing of all is that Sarah Palin was correct and every liberal on here mocked her. Not only that, they continued to mock her last week in a ticker article even though she was correct. To the liberal, it's WHO says it, not the content of what's said.

    March 3, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Morris Talley

    Remember, Kerry has a lethal arrow left in his empty quiver, his WMD'S "climate change"

    March 3, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Enough is Enough

    Hey Obama and Kerry – perhaps you should call Palin, McCain and Romney – they appear to have a much better grasp of international politics than you two do. And the progressive left will continue to call conservatives stupid and uneducated....never let facts get in the way of an opinion, eh?
    ---------------------------------
    So far, the only thing that the right has supplied has been criticism and hot air. They all know, except for maybe Palin, that a military option, and the use of force, is not an option in Ukraine. Just like military force was not not an option in Georgia back in 2008, it's not an option now. Just like the U.S. Congress voted against military force in Syria, the use of military force was not an option there, either. Arming Syrian rebels seemed more of an unwise choice than a wise one.

    Republicans are going to criticize and complain about anything that they can whine about. Just take note of how their complaints lack any viable alternatives. Lindsey Graham has criticized budget cuts to the military, which his own party put in place under the sequester. Furthermore, the cuts are smaller than cuts implemented by Dick Cheney following the first Gulf War under Bush-41.

    March 3, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. CryBabies

    Joe: "Mr. President, where are we on the Russia-Ukraine situation?" Mr. President: "I took care of it Joe...Just got done drawing a line for Putin not to cross and now I'm off to a fund raiser for the DNC. Git R Done!"

    March 3, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    So is this the result of Obama's "flexibility" or Clinton's busted reset button?
    -------------------------–
    This is the result of the U.S. kicking dirt in Putin's face under Bush-43. This is the result of U.S. military that's expended itself fighting two decade long wars. This is the result of an economy, which crashed under Bush, that can no longer afford to spend more money than the next ten top militaries combined. Finally, this is the result of the mass delusion that the U.S. is supposed to be the planet's police force.

    March 3, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  20. just someone

    North Korea launching missiles and Russia invading Crimea, both great reasons for us to cut our standing armed forces. Iran will just wait until we are not able to do anything due to lack of personnel and weapons to do as they want. North Korea will wait until we commit in Russia and invade South Korea.

    March 3, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    So is this the result of Obama's "flexibility" or Clinton's busted reset button?
    ---------–
    This is the result of the U.S. kicking dirt in Putin's face under Bush-43. This is the result of U.S. military that's expended itself fighting two decade long wars. This is the result of an economy, which crashed under Bush, that can no longer afford to spend more money than the next ten top militaries combined. Finally, this is the result of the mass delusion that the U.S. is supposed to be the planet's police force.
    --------
    Ahhhh... I see. Blame Bush, blame Bush, blame Bush, and throw out a rhetorical talking point. You've outdone yourself on this one, Rudy.

    March 3, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    just someone

    North Korea launching missiles and Russia invading Crimea, both great reasons for us to cut our standing armed forces. Iran will just wait until we are not able to do anything due to lack of personnel and weapons to do as they want. North Korea will wait until we commit in Russia and invade South Korea.
    -------------------------------
    Raise taxes so that you can pay for your delusional military forces. You do realize that you're complaining about the sequester cuts to military spending that House Republicans had put in place. The House controls the purse strings, and the Republicans control the House. Remember? Most Americans are not as stupid as the Republican Party thinks.

    March 3, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. Tampa Tim

    We spend more on military than the next 13 countries combined, but Hannity doesn't think that is enough. So now the brain dead are not happy with repub sequestration? Congress can introduce a new spending bill at any time, since they are in charge of the money.

    March 3, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. Wake up People!

    Regardless of who is in the Oval Office. It does major harm to our country for our elected officials to go on TV bashing the damn POTUS. We need a united front. I'm surprised every damn country in the world isn't ready to attack us. I seem to remember being TOLD if I didn't support then President Bush during wartime, I was a traitor. I guess that sentiment doesn't apply to THIS POTUS.

    It's sickening. And I hate this racist, bigoted country. I freeking hate it!

    March 3, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. CryBabies

    Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy....Sequester was as much Obamas doing as it was Congress. Remember he did not want to negotiate? No of course you don't....your brain leans left on ALL situations. Spin me Rudy, Spin me!!!

    March 3, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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