Kerry Disputes That Putin Seized Crimea Because He Thought Obama Wouldn’t Respond

March 2, 2014 - 5:28 PM

Ukraine Photo Gallery

Troops in unmarked uniforms stand guard in Balaklava on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. An emblem on one of the vehicles and their number plates identify them as belonging to the Russian military. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

(CNSNews.com) – 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.”

“He may be able to have his troops for some period of time in Crimea unless he resolves this, but the fact is he’s going to lose on the international stage,” Kerry said. “Russia is going to lose. The Russian people are going to lose. He’s going to lose all of the glow that came out of the Olympics, his $60 billion extravaganza. He is not going to have a Sochi G8 [summit in June]. He may not even remain in the G8 if this continues. He may find himself with asset freezes on Russian business. American business may pull back. There may be a further tumble of the ruble. There is a huge price to pay.”

“The United States is united; Russia is isolated,” Kerry said. “That is not a position of strength.”

The State Department announced Sunday that Kerry will travel to Kiev on Tuesday, to hold talks with the new government, lawmakers and civil society, and to “reaffirm the United States' strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation.”