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. Anonymous

    We are such a bunch of hypocrites. Its disgusting. Our country is doomed.

    March 2, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. peterz

    Why Russian behaved like 19th century in 21st century, it was what the communism left over when it gone, pushing Russia back to the 19th. To deal with Russia we need to know what type of people they were. They were Russian but they did not know about Russia and its culture. I thought the same as other countries like China, Vietnam now.

    March 2, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  3. brian

    Aggression? When we invaded Russia in 1918 we called it an "expedition." It's funny how countries play word games.

    March 2, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  4. FlipSide

    Catherine the Great established the port in Crimea in the 1700s. Do they really think that Putin will go down in history as giving it up to NATO? It's not going to happen.

    I don't know what their strategy is. Does NATO want Western Ukraine, but doesn't want it to seem too easy? Are they planning something bigger in Syria or Iran, and want to tie Russia up in Crimea?

    March 2, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  5. tim pegg

    OK John.......... if 'all options' exist for you............. take action you weak person........... Obama is a silly person..... PUTIN is laughing his guts out......................... DO SOMETHING.......... stop talking and DO SOMETHING other than falling into Putin's trap......

    March 2, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  6. carbon dioxide

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

    Sure one does. Especially if they are an American president. Why is it that Presidents like Bush and Obama can attack countries but Putin can't?

    March 2, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  7. Carlos

    The Obama administration is a joke.

    March 2, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  8. Jeff

    John Kerry is speaking, whatever he says is a lie!

    March 2, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  9. Jon

    I don't believe, as some comments have suggested, that any nation that has 'a dog in this fight' – namely Ukraine and Russia – wants a war. Russia has far more pressing issues, as does Ukraine. However, Ukraine differs from Georgia in the fact that Ukraine is more geopolitically viable than Georgia was. Plus, Ukraine and Russia had The Memorandum guaranteeing Ukrainian sovereignty if they gave up nukes and didn't allow missile batteries which Russia is so concerned about. Georgia and Russia had no such prior agreement, so a take-over or "intervention" was far less of a risk for Russia. Ukraine, unfortunately, is the fine line between the EU and the Russian powerhouse, which is why this is getting SO much media attention, as opposed to the Georgia invasion of 2008 which barely registered a blip on the international radar. As I said in a previous post, American [and now it seems, possibly, Canadian] males should prepare for conscription. The Cold War is over, but a new, more violent, more militaristic one is about to begin, and the U.S. seems to believe it needs to play 'protector' yet again, no thanks to Ukrainian overtures of 'military assistance'. I've already prepared myself for that letter in the mail telling me to report for conscription.

    March 2, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  10. Chaim Shekelberg

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

    Ha. Hahahaha. Haha. Ha. This coming from America, the country that invaded Iraq on completely trumped up pretext, and has been chomping at the bit for a reason to invade Iran since the 1980's. Not to mention the country that has been treating every third world country in the world as their own personal stomping ground with drones.

    Stay classy, America.

    March 2, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  11. geen

    I'm just betting that Putin cares about criticism from the U.S. condemning him for invading and occupying a sovereign country as those pro-war polticians such as t hose clowns in the bush and Obama administrations cared about world criticism of them invading, occupying, killng hundreds of thousands in the SOVEREIGN country's of Iraq and Afghanstan..(the Key word being..ummm..SOVEREIGN. After the invasions and occupations of Iraq and afgahistan for over a decade, and the escalation by Obama of the war in Afghanistan a month before ACCEPTING a Nobel Peace Prize (SHAME ON THAT ONCE RESPECATABLE INSTITUTION), The U.S. has lost all moral justication for demanding of other country's what they routinely practice themselves...kind of like being the only country in the world who ever dropped nuclear weapons on civilian populations demanding that other country's DON'T develop them...hmmm...such blatant hypocrisy makes me sick....and the really sad thing is that the News Media–EVEN Fox "news" doesn't say a thing about this...

    March 2, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  12. kws11

    All our options... hand wringing, jaw clenching, finger wagging, maybe even some more harsh words.

    You know, the stuff we used to show Syria and North Korea who's boss.

    March 3, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  13. Penny Boppie

    Can we just cool this and mind our own business for a change? I am fed up with the military solution or threats of sanctions to every problem that crops up in the world. When you are a hammer, as we are, every problem looks like a nail. And right now we have more than our share of nails right here at home that we need to take care of without our military spending any more of our tax dollars. I know it's great for the stock market, but not for those down on the lower rungs of the ladder..

    March 3, 2014 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  14. Expat American

    Then we have the community organizer who cannot match wits with Putin, the world sees Obama as weak and spineless.
    You speak for the world? Interesting. Because Republicans and their voters are so admired abroad. McCain or Romney would surely have already solved this issue less than 48 hours after if first happened. I wonder if McCain or Romney would have utilized 'shock and awe' carpet bombing tactics on Russian civilians and children at this point – just like Bush and the Republicans did in Iraq.

    March 3, 2014 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  15. david

    all options are on the table....including a ham sandwich and pepperoni pizza

    March 3, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  16. Christen

    Was the United States wrong for patrioting Texas? If not, why is Russia wrong here? The conflict here is about our trade interests, and our desire for political dominance over a region. I hope that this conflict to protect the perceived, potential interests of our wealthiest and most powerful individuals does not end up taking millions of lives!!!!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. Wowzer

    We would have much better leverage had we not invaded a bunch of middle eastern countries in the past decade for reasons as dumb or if not dumber than Russia is using to invade Ukraine.

    March 3, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  18. Mike

    USA criticizing Russia is the pot calling the kettle black, no credibility.

    March 3, 2014 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  19. stingerhp

    kerry will as successful in Kiev as would be pelosi, reid and shumer.. Sending brain dead people just makes no sense...

    March 3, 2014 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  20. Joey

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

    Biggest piece of doublethink to happen this century. Where was this clown back during the entire Iraq fiasco? Remember that war that was based on a biggest of trumped up pretext? The worst part is he was all for bombing Syria based on questionable evidence.

    America is a joke, nobody takes those hypocrites seriously.

    March 3, 2014 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  21. james

    Funny how when the U.S. invades or shoots into a country (killing innocent people in many cases) or countries it is okay but if another nation does it it is wrong.

    "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.”

    Was Kerry in a coma during to lead up to the last Iraq war in which Bush/Cheney trumped up WMD evidence to justify U.S. invading Iraq?

    Maybe Kerry is suffering from Alzheimer's disease or another form of selective dimentia. He has health coverage so he can get checked right?

    March 3, 2014 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  22. steve

    Empty rhetoric and innuendo are the trademarks of the administration.
    Unfortunately for our country, that was not the case with the previous one. It's time to sit tight, see what happens, and refrain from doing something stupid.

    March 3, 2014 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  23. Sam

    How incredibly stupid you are a John Kerry and you John McCain and Lindsey Graham. You want to put all options on the table against a power that can vaporize us a few times over?! Make them pay a price? For what? Doing what we would do ourselves if they were to organize, finance and engineer the overthrow of the government of Mexico or Canada on our border? Stay out of the way and let the big bear protect.her cubs. I don't think your brains quite comprehend the seriousness of the threat that Russia sees in us engineering a power grab right on their border in a country where 40% of the population is Russian. We the citizens of America are sick of you guys making us serial warmongers and chain smoking countries one by one. But this is not Grenada, panama, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria. You won't smoke this one and live to tell.

    March 3, 2014 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  24. Citizenatlarge1

    Once again, the foolish nature of this administration is on full display. The United States in NOT going to get into a military conflict with Russia over Ukraine period! We know this, the Russians know this, even the Ukrainians know this.
    This demonstrates the ineptness and total keystone cops approach to world affairs by the current administration. World leaders must be laughing in private over this latest miscue! This should have been handled quietly but forcefully through diplomatic channels. But Mr. Obama couldn't resist a public display of bravado warning Russia not to do what they've just done. As if that wasn't bad enough, now Mr. Kerry tells the world that all options are on the table. In the past the mere possibility that the US would intervene in situations such as these, was enough to keep some world players honest, but no more. In his time in office Mr. Obama has totally wrecked that image of the United States thus removing a very important tool to world stability. Amateurs should never be confused with experienced statesmen.

    March 3, 2014 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  25. Tom

    All options are on the table. How many times has that been said these last five years?

    March 3, 2014 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
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