March 2nd, 2014
01:34 PM ET
8 years 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."

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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. Citizen Twain

    Kerry should keep stay home before he gets the US into more than they can handle.

    March 2, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Tom

    Rostislav Babiak you need to move buddy!
    How can you live here while hating this country so much?
    Lots of places to go in this world you need to get to a place you approve of. Russia is a good place to go...why not go?

    March 2, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Tom

    With Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama working on this together what could go wrong?
    Anyone think that reducing the Military to 1940 levels is a good decision?

    Gas up the drones.....

    March 2, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Chris

    When did the US begin supporting illegitimate governments and Russia support elected governments? Kerry, you aren't gonna do anything but run your mouth. We are not going to go to war over the Ukraine. The protests and riots in this country would .... HEY!!!! If it's OK for the citizens of the Ukraine to do it according to our politicians!!!!!

    March 2, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. 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.
    My question is why did US invaded Iraq on completely trumped up pretext in 2003?

    March 2, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Joel

    Thank God for RT television to at least present the other side of the spin we endure as news readers. Cnn is not all bad, but neither are the views of those outside the static.

    March 2, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. satanthomas

    I have spent most of my 56 year life under the oppression of a possible Russian attack on the US, all out thermonuclear war. It is time to finally bring this thing to a head. USA versus USSR. We have danced around each other for a half-century, now let's see who really can do what was threatened for so many years.

    March 2, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. River7

    While others have said it, I just can't help myself..."You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,"

    We have lost all integrity to make a statement like this after Iraq. Invading countries on pretext seems to be the 21st century norm, thank you very much.

    March 2, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. Richard Gilbert

    "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."

    YOU don't, but WE do. There's a difference...

    March 2, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. John

    How many people died in Syria before the Us condemned Assad? Now all of a sudden we get tough with Russia?
    Who is Kerry kidding. Deal with your climate WMD's problem Kerry and stop thinking you have any influence with anyone.
    We have dumb and dumber in the White House. Nobody fears the US anymore.

    March 2, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. idiotusmaximus

    Kerry rebukes Russia's 'incredible act of aggression'.........................

    Come on people.....STOP WHINING.....if Bush could invade INNOCENT IRAQ for no good real reason why can't Putin do the same thing?

    Aggression is a two way street you know.

    March 2, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  12. Koleman

    "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," – he could have said it to G.W.Bush before the Iraq invasion.

    March 2, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. OldGrunt83

    Obama has already FLUNKED his test!

    * Who threw out the Eastern European missile defense system that had been developed over years by the Bush Administration – at the same time they were doing the “RESET” with Russia? LOST LEVERAGE BY OBAMA!
    * Who gave an arrogant lecture to Romney in October 2012, about Russia, and accused Romney of dwelling in the past when Romney suggested that Russia would be one of our big foreign affairs challenges in the future?
    * Who continues to dither over the Keystone pipeline - a step that could further reduce the price of oil that the US could have an hand in controlling, and hurt Russia economically?
    * Who announced - early on - unilateral reductions of nuclear forces?
    * Who announced draconian cuts of the US military to pre WWII levels, along with cuts to military personnel compensation?

    Come on! Every test this guy has had HE HAS FLUNKED!!

    March 2, 2014 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Zayah V

    All of you anti obama tools are all so silly in the garbage you spew. Russian isn't the little guys we are used to stepping on and then pound our chest and call ourselves the most powerful nation. They have a good military and are a nuclear nation. Wake up tools, when was the last time we picked a fight with a nation that wasn't so far below us that we could just joke about it?

    March 2, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. leonidius2010

    Just let people of Crimea decide for themselves if they want to be part of the new neo-nazi Ukraine, or start a new life with or without Russia. Russian troops are there just to guarantee that people of Crimea can make this free choice on March 30.

    March 2, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Doug

    “all options are on the table” as far as a U.S. response.

    No, they're not. And everybody knows it.


    March 2, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. joe

    This isn't like Cuba.

    March 2, 2014 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  18. steve

    Only retaliation – US and its allies should go overthrown the Assad of Syria and/or invade Venezuela.

    March 2, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Bob Ramos

    Either we go in now with troops to help the Ukraianian troops including those in the Crimea or we just shut up. Also, if we do not help militarily, then we never again should reassure our allies that we will in case of aggression. We would be lying.

    March 2, 2014 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. Dr. Malcolm Davis

    Kerry states "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext". He just does not 'get it'. In considering Russia's choices we have to realise that Russia does not think in the same way about international rules and the legitimacy of the use of force. From their perspective what matters is power, security, and influence – not international cooperation and a 'rules-based international order'. They do think in a 20th Century mindset that emphasizes zero-sum calculations on security. So its a foolish mistake to try to interpret and understand their actions purely by mirror-imaging our approach to international relations. I believe we continue to make this mistake – we assume they will play by our rules – and we consistently fail to understand their intentions. So we are surprised consistently when they appear to break our rules, and we then are left scrambling to try and respond.

    In reality I think a 'rules based international order' is a very selective affair for a small number of states predominantly in the West. If such an order exists elsewhere its a very fragile or malleable medium for international relations.

    March 2, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  21. Roy

    Republicans especially John McCain want WAR WAR WAR............

    March 2, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. manicdrummer

    Nothing short of a direct military deterrent will stop Russia from invading and subduing Ukraine. Economic and political sanctions won't cut it. No major world power would dream of backing down in the absence of total destruction of their infrastructure. Putin has nothing to lose.

    March 2, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. Evervigilant

    It amazes me all these people saying watch out Russia is dangerous as a military force. Please, they have junk, most of their navy is sold off or in mothballs. Their tanks and other gear are antiquated. We've shown that their air defenses are a joke when we leveled them in Iraq.

    March 2, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    That's laughable, when you consider how many times the U.S. has interfered in other people's affairs.

    March 2, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. amazed2

    The time has come for republicans to shut up.

    March 2, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
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