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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Kerry Statement on Russia's Role in Ukraine Crisis
3 years
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US Sanctions Against Putin 'Not Off The Table'

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has made an unscheduled statement on the crisis in Ukraine.

Kerry stressed that Ukraine has fulfilled its obligations according to the Geneva agreement. He both refuted Russian claims that Kiev has failed to adhere to the accords, and asserted that Russia has absolutely ignored them:

Only one side, one country, is keeping its word.

Let's get real. The Geneva agreement is not open to interpretation. It is not vague. It is not optional. We agreed that all sides would refrain from violence and illegal groups would lay down arms in exchange for amnesty.

He cited the Ukrainian governments efforts to fulfil its obligations, saying that:

From day one the government of Ukraine started making good on its commitments... Prime Minister Yatsenyuk directly addressed the concerns of the Russians, and he did so on day one... And by complying with actions requested by Russia, like removing the barricades in the Maidan... Ukraine is thereby taking tangible concrete steps to move beyond the division of the last months.

Meanwhile Russia, he says, has "refused to take a single concrete step in the right direction." He noted that:

You cannot solve a conflict when only one side is willing to do what is needed to.

Kerry attacked Russian efforts to distort the situation through propaganda, singling out Russia's state-sponsored, English language broadcaster, RT (which he refers to as Russia Today, its original moniker) for criticism:

In fact the propaganda bullhorn that is the state sponsored Russia Today network... who have been devoted almost full time to this effort to propagandise & distort what is happening...

In the 21st century, when every citizen can broadcast messages & video from palm of their hand, no amount of propaganda can hide the truth.

The Secretary of State made it clear that he believed Russia to be behind the separatist protests in southeast Ukraine.

Prior to Russia's escalation there was no violence. There was no broad scale assault on the rights of people in the east...

Russia is stoking the very instability that they say that they want to quell...

Having failed to halt a legitimate political process, Russia has instead chosen a course of illegitimate armed violence. This is a full throated effort by Russia to actively sabotage the democratic process through gross intimidation..

He mocked Russian claims that the militias' uniforms and equipment were locally bought. He said that:

The world knows that peaceful protesters don't come armed with grenade launchers, hiding the insignias on their brand new uniforms...

We've seen weapons and gear on the separatists that matches those used by Russia's special forces.

He also cited the foreign, heavily Russian accents of many of the fighters, and referred to SBU claims of having arrested a number of Russian GRU agents, and the interception of phone calls between agents and their handlers in Moscow. He specifically referred to SBU claims of having identified the organiser of the separatists in Slavyansk as being Igor Stelkov, a GRU officer.

We've seen this movie before, most recently in Crimea where similar subterfuge by Russia was followed by a full invasion.

Kerry suggested that Russia would attempt to force Ukraine to overreact in order to provide an excuse to invade. He also said that "Russia is actually mystified" by the Ukrainian people's desire to rid themselves of a corrupt government and to rebuild their state.

Threatening further economic sanctions, he warned that:

Let me clear. If Russia continues in this direction, it will not just be a grave mistake. It will be an expensive mistake.

After enumerating the economic costs Russia has already paid for its invasion of Crimea, Kerry said:

Make no mistake that what i've just described is really just a snapshot and is also, regrettably, just a preview of how the free world will respond if Russia continues to escalate what they have promised to de-escalate.

The window to change course is closing. If Russia does not, the world will make sure that the costs for Russia will only grow. We are ready to act.