Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday challenged the notion that President Vladimir Putin went ahead and seized control of Ukraine’s Crimea on the assumption that President Obama would do nothing in response. Russia was not operating from “a position of strength,” he declared.
Appearing on three Sunday talk shows, Kerry said Russia’s actions were reminiscent of “19th century” behavior, and warned that possible consequences could include G8 isolation of Russia, visa bans and sanctions.
He acknowledged that Putin “may be able to have his troops for some period of time in Crimea,” but said that Russia would ultimately “lose.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory recalled that Kerry just last Wednesday had said Putin gave assurances to Obama that he would respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“Now you’re talking about Russia annexing the Crimea. Something happened,” Gregory continued. “And I wonder, as you hear some criticism from conservatives who say the issue here is that Vladimir Putin is not afraid, that he saw a red line by this administration in Syria and then no follow-up, no action, that he thinks that he can provoke the U.S. and the West and that President Obama won’t do anything in response.”
“Well, he’s finding out the opposite,” Kerry responded. “Let me make it clear: President Putin is not operating from a place of strength here. [Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich was his supported president. Yanukovich was thrown out, despite Putin’s support. Yanukovich turned on his own people. President Putin is using force in a completely inappropriate manner that will invite the opprobrium of the world, and it already is. He is not going to gain by this.”
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