March 2nd, 2014
01:34 PM ET
10 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. yogi

    The righties are blaming Obama, oh yes, we hear you loud and clear, we should intervene militarily like the Bushes have. Republicans lack the capability to negotiate with intelligence or evaluate complex foreign situations, they only think in terms of brute force, they love wars, the more the better, and if thousands die? Oh well that's war.

    March 2, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. Spgfld Tom

    Since Kerry's boss has elected to gut our military so we can have ObamaCare and purchase bulletproof vests for minority youth, our only option is to fly our 60 year old B52s over Kiev then hightail it for home. Didn't President Pinocchio task Zany Uncle Joe Biden with solving the problems in the Ukraine? What happened to that plan? Oops, I remember, ZUJB went on The View instead.

    March 2, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  3. Brian

    Purtin just wants to be Czar of the World. In dealing with someone like him you just have to be prepared to carry a bigger stick and use it.

    March 2, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. BDD

    No matter what Mr. Kerry is saying today, the fact remains that he and others in U.S government have made serious mistake and underestimated Putin. The U.S got out maneuvered again by Putin because today, Putin has captured Crimea without firing a single shot. The rest of the Ukraine is in deep economic crisis which now becomes the problem of E.U and U.S. If we are smart, we should let Germans pay the bill for accepting Ukraine in the E.U. Accepting Ukraine in the E.U is going to complicate economic recovery of E.U. If the situation is escalated further, the Russians could block Oil and Gas deliveries to Ukraine or ask for lot more money and that will surely push Ukraine in to economic meltdown. If we look at the history and nature of Ukrainians, they are almost same as Russians. So their union with E.U is going be very difficult in the long run. if we in the U.S play our cards correctly and stay out of this, we can still turn this to our benefit.

    March 2, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. bdby

    We all might as well go home and leave it be. The Russians are going to keep Crimea regardless of what the world does. There is only one exception/solution to the problem and that is for the Ukraines to force them out militarily. It is up to them if it is worth shedding their son’s blood for this piece of property. All the blustering and drum beating by world leaders is falling on deaf ears.

    The last one out of the room please shut off the lights.

    March 2, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Medhat

    All options on the table, a phrase that I have heard so many times, the options are, Vodka, Coffee, Green tea.

    March 2, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  7. mike johnson

    ... seems like they are looking for another conflict ... to keep the money flowing ... this is not a US security issue ... let Ukraine, Russia and the Europeans deal with this

    March 2, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. Doug

    Oh, oh, “all options are on the table”. Does this mean Obama may "draw a red line" or will he just "color a chicken yellow"?

    March 2, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. Eric

    Seems like Russia is more interested in protecting it's people in Crimea than waging a war.

    March 2, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. throckie

    I am so glad over what Putin did! Ukraine was on its way to becoming another Greece: an impoverished w-hore of the EU and another moral casaulty of the West. Better Red than Rainbow Coloured.!

    March 2, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. Yoda

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

    Do Americans understand the meaning of the word irony, or hypocrisy? or are most of us too dense?

    March 2, 2014 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. Hitman

    Kerry said that "all options are on the table". That means he may not pass the mashed potatoes and gravy.
    Obama and Kerry couldn't frighten a 6 year old girl alone on a dark street in Detroit.

    March 2, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. bitty31985

    Hypocrisy at it's finest.

    March 2, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  14. Jake

    "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."

    Hahahahahahahah.. this guy is joking right? The USA invaded Iraq on completely trumped up pretext of WMD's and liberating the people from Saddam.. but no WMD's were ever found and the situation in Iraq is worse post-Saddam than it was pre-Saddam.. the USA has ZERO right to say half the crap it says.. it's laughable.

    March 2, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Jax Beach Son

    All options are on the table! That is foolish on a grandiose scale! This is not our concern yet as always we can't wait to interfere into the affairs of other nations! I would love to know who died and left the USA in charge of the world. I am not concerned with all of the fear mongering that our government puts out constantly with nations like Iran and N.Korea getting my family killed I am more afraid of my own government getting us killed I the name of Projecting Power around the world. Our military is supposed to be for the defense of our country not for the security of the planet! We have attacked so many Sovereign Nations in my 57 years that we now make Hitler seem like a peacemaker! We have become the kind of nation that we used to complain about when I was younger

    March 2, 2014 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  16. Eric

    Crimea actually belongs to Russia and should haven never been given to Ukraine. I say let Russia have it which is what I think Obama is going to do.

    March 2, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. mike

    The administration has finally put some teeth into their rhetoric. John Kerry has just slapped Vladimir Putin with a carbon tax for operating diesel tanks outside of his country. I anticipate the Russians to retreat from these overbearing sanctions.

    March 2, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  18. Akhero

    In reply to Rostislav Babiak –

    Most of us Americans are just as sick and tired of our government as the rest of the world.. We the people have lost any say in what our government does and have no control of what our nation does on a global scale. I just hope when everything goes south the world takes that into consideration – that most of us don't act like or condone the hypocrites and imperialists that our nation is run by. It's depressing really. What choice do we have? I'm completely fed up with our country but my whole life and family is here. I couldn't imagine ever leaving them to move to another country.

    March 2, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. voreason

    "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."

    Unfortunately for our moral standing in foreign affairs, that is EXACTLY what WE did in 2003 by invading Iraq. The invasion of Iraq did great harm to our ability to act in a credible fashion in a situation like this.

    March 2, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. Miguel

    If you are going to try and talk tough you'd better be willing to back it up with bullets.

    March 2, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. williamscholtz

    Russia has a smaller economy than the city of New York. It is NO threat to the USA, who have an economy, 9 times larger, and a militiray 3 to 4 times stronger, better trained, and battled hardened, Our president is correct(this time). Just isolate the poor idiots, (Russia) and there will be people in the street in Moscow, not in Kiev. Putin, may then face what Ghadafi faced. Who wants a war whith an idiot, and an openent that is not worthy of a fight....

    March 2, 2014 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  22. voreason

    I should add that we cannot do anything here militarily. The situation is exactly analogous to the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 or the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. It is not possible for the US to engage Russia in a direct military conflict because of the unacceptable possibility of escalation to a nuclear exchange. Even the minutest probability of this must be seen as unacceptable to humanity.

    March 2, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  23. jack

    "All options are on the table?' That line has gotten really old. The Russians have 8752 nukes. I don't think Kerry can scare them. Btw isn't he is the one who boasted about his service in Nam until the Swift Boaters exposed him a a liar?

    March 2, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Ted T

    I am feeling in one way, why doesn't the USA, FRANCE< GERMANY, the UK all NATO members drop around half million troops into Kiev, then head south right? But then I am thinking do we really want WW3. But then at the same time To just let Russia do whatever they want, when will this end? How many other countries are they going to invade?
    Sure the USA invaded IRAQ, Libya - BUT THE LEADER OF THAT country needed to be taken out I think. And Syria, bothers me too, Like no one helped them!

    March 2, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. serb

    Mr kerry we r not talking here about little powerless serbia that u can bomb a soverighn nation along with NATO in 1999 for 78 days
    U know what d indian scouts told gen custer before d battle- go there and fight as those r real warriors and not d weak ones

    March 2, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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