March 2nd, 2014
01:34 PM ET
5 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. eoyguy

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

    Really? I think there are some people in Iraq that would disagree with that statement

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

    Funny.... "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext" – is it about Iraq or he said about Yugoslavia or maybe he meant Libya?

    March 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. David

    a stroll over to wikipedia says that Crimea is an "Autonomous republic" that can vote itself out of Ukraine with a referendum. It is 90% russophonic and 70% self identified ethnic Russian according to EU based opinion polls. What is wrong with giving them their self determination. We did so with Kosovo. What claim does Ukraine have to it? It certainly has no historic claim, and less than 10% of the population is Ukrainian and almost al are very recent (less than a generation).

    March 2, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. George

    So by Sec. Kerry saying all options are on the table, then that means the option of war with Russia is on the table. This is just such a wonderful way to co-exist with other nations. What right does the U.S. have to meddle in a regional conflict? Kerry, how far you have come. It really sickens a lot of people, and I mean tens of millions of people. The biggest sell out in American history.

    March 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. George

    Kerry should resign or be fired, and Obama should be impeached. I voted for him twice.

    March 2, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Secession Solution

    Putin "invades" Ukraine – no one dies. U.S. invades Irag- tens of thousands die, millions made homeless, infrastructure destroyed. Who would you rather have invade your country?

    March 2, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Tasuja

    "All options are on the table".

    So to are they for Russia. My relatives in Russia are telling me that now is the time for Russia to arm Iran with its most sophisticated weapons.

    The ball is now in our Chicago street coordinator's court. Make a move, Barak Hussein obama. Do something beside sleeping or dribbling the basketball.

    March 2, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. John Riley Goldsmith

    Kerry's warning is a bit late. Putin has crossed the Rubicon and the time for talking is past.

    March 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. District Nine

    "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." TRUE. Just look at what Bush did with the so-called WMD.

    March 2, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Richard Long

    "STOP! Or I'll tell you to stop again!!!" – Johnny

    March 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Smitty

    Im sure Putin is real concerned about Lurch wanting to have a conversation. We have lost world wide credibility. When your pres is awarded BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR, how do you think the rest of the world looks at us ???

    March 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Rich

    "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."
    Ahhhhh, can you say "Iraq"?

    March 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Thomas

    This is what happens when the political corrupt corporate mafia's run the world.

    Follow the money to every corrupt oligarch , the only way to stop such behavior is to put a spike through the heart of Dracula's bankers .

    The world is waiting to turn on these selfish greedy corrupt gangsters .

    Ask Ahmed Chalabi,

    March 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Dr Incognitus

    "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext". Unless it's Iraq, anyway.

    March 2, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Koleman

    No sympathy for Russia in this case- but I would focus on the moral aspect of our own actions. We installed arrant Nazis in Ukraine by means of violent force- no elections, no pretense of democracy. Sickening, violent Nazis...First thing they did when in power was to ban Russian language spoken by at least half of the population. Naturally, not only Russian speaking part of the population but all normal people in Ukraine were panicked...As anyone would be at the victory of violent Nazi mob. It was us and the EU who should have fought the fascists- instead be backed them as a tool for our own geopolitical agenda. So are you surprised that the people turn to Russia to protect them?

    March 2, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. lifeisadimension

    Fait accompli!

    Think of Putin as a very smart bully who is not a coward. Unfortunately, any unmatched show of force encourages further aggression by the bully.

    (c) 2014

    March 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. kinoeye

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

    Sorry, Iraq. Our bad.

    March 2, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. kelownahombre

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

    Apparently, the U.S. Secretary of State has not read 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 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Mike

    "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."

    I can't believe Kerry could say this with a straight face.

    March 2, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. GODZILLA1

    What options? There is nothing we can do to stop Putin.

    March 2, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. toodles

    I like Kerry, but it is extremely hypocritical and confusing for the U.S. to denounce the pre-emptive occupation of a sovereign nation after what we did to Iraq. :( And to demand that Russia obtain U.N. support after President Bush openly flaunted it?! I guess Russia may have strategic interests as much as we do!..

    March 2, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Steve851

    Long term, a great strategy would be to go full speed ahead on developing all our oil and gas resources, and build Keystone, so we could supply Europe with energy and undercut the advantage Russia has on that front.

    March 2, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Zaga

    There is no moral high ground for anyone to stand on at all. Might as well just start WW3 already, it is inevitable at this point.

    March 2, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Sam

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

    I am sorry if I was confused and thought those words were somehow referring to us, Iraq and WMDs

    March 2, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Rise

    God help us, with Kerry/Obama as leaders of the non-free world.

    March 2, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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