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. marg

    "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."

    Is he talking about Iraq?

    March 2, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. don in albuquerque

    Kinda like our own incredible act of aggression against Iraq?

    March 2, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. fairness

    What else can we besides talks? We are not talking here about a third world country, but Russia which as equipped as we are. Let's be very careful about what we wish for, that's my advice.

    March 2, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. kmwatersaz

    More empty rhetoric just like Obama. They ought to be quiet rather than shooting their mouth off with meaningless metaphors and inuendos. Kerry is almost as much of an embarrasment as the rest of the cabinet.

    March 2, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. realist

    We should all band together with Obama and do nothing, and blame the invasion on a small protest against how muslims are portrayed in some film, just like Benghazi. Obama lets all sort of illegal aliens into the US, what's the difference with Russia sending some illegal aliens into Ukraine.

    March 2, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. kmwatersaz

    Empty rhetoric and innuendo are the trademarks of the administration.

    March 2, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. Buggs

    After the US invasion of Iraq Kerry should be careful about saying things like "invading for trumped up reasons"! Also, the whole world knows that NOT all options are on the table. It is stupid and dangerous to say such things. There is not way we would ever us force against Russia unless they were stupid enough to attack up. Opening his mouth Kerry has given Russia a perceived threat to play with now.

    Stop posturing, simply put them on the "unfriendly" list, put the NATO defenses back in place, stop all types of aid and boycott all their commerce.

    March 2, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. WunWingLo

    Kerry also stated that the US would "totally be doing something right now if we could afford to", but said that China wouldn't lend the US its Exxon credit card to fill up the F-18s and the carriers, "so we're pretty much hooped on his one..."

    March 2, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. Jefferson Davis Hogg

    Well now we wait, you John it is a chess game. The players are very unbalanced on the scales however, Putin has the intelligence, home court advantage and has the cultural knowledge of the area. Then we have the community organizer who cannot match wits with Putin, the world sees Obama as weak and spineless. We shall see how this comes to pass but I doubt it is going to be a shining moment for the Ace of Clubs and his hand of jesters. Putin will prevail.

    March 2, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Rostislav Babiak

    Kerry like his boss Obama is a pathological liar. I place my trust and faith in Mr. Putin instead of either of these two American clowns. This is a Russian and Ukrainian affair – US stay out or you might end up with a nuclear suppository. By the way, the US condemning Russia for 19th century tactics is like the devil complaining about sin. The Useless States have been behind all these failed revolutions in the Middle East that has destabilized the Middle East and to some extent the entire world. Now they want to encircle and destroy Russia. I pray in the name of God it is the US that is encircled and brought down to her end. She is a cancer in body of this world that only seeks to destroy others and replace the worlds' greatest cultures with its trash.

    March 2, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. bing520

    "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext." Is Kerry right? G. W. Bush did the same thing to Iraq in 2003.

    March 2, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Rostislav Babiak

    By the way, I'm an American born citizen who has hated the US since I was little boy and saw the hypocrisy of its government and many of its undereducated people.

    March 2, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. ihaveascrewloose

    The United States must exhaust all existing avenues of diplomacy, before resorting to physical force.

    March 2, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. andyoo

    stop all trade with Russia...send them back to 19th century.

    March 2, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Chops

    Let's just tell them we're going to nuke'm and be done with it.

    March 2, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. JiminNM

    Mess with Putin and start WWIII. Is that what you want? Do you want Russia and China to nuke the life out of America because the bankers want European control of the Ukraine?

    March 2, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Vladimir

    How Kerry can say: "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," when this is exactly what US did with Iraq. Sorry, but after that we (the USA) lost moral grounds and can not tell other countries what to do?

    March 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. dima

    You must have omitted the ending of the quote: 'You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext, unless you're the USA'

    March 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. mike Holmes

    What an idiot. So you are telling the Russians the nuclear option is also on the table. God please give him a brain.

    March 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. Riders

    Ha,ha.... Iraq was legit and Ukraine in an act of aggression. You are hypocrites....

    March 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. IReason

    Theirs is an act of aggression.

    Our invasions of two middle eastern countries was to "liberate" them??????

    Give me a break.

    Our political "leaders" have an incredible way of totally avoiding facts.

    Time to put them all out on the street – ours and the Putin's of the world. There is a better path to follow.

    March 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Danilushka Ozera

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

    You mean like we did Iraq over false , trumped-up charges of WMD, Mr. Kerry?

    March 2, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Colin

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

    Oh, really?

    "Polite" carpet bombing of Baghdad was obviously a 21st century "war on TV".

    March 2, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. DHH

    During the debates, Mitt was right. Russia is our number one geopolitical foe. "Leading from behind"... Sheesh, be is being left behind. Why should Putin fear an Obama / Kerry threat...not even Assad fears Obama / Kerry.

    March 2, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. BobPA

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

    March 2, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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