West embarks on last attempt to preserve Ukraine

Secretary of State John Kerry warns Russia it faces "very serious" sanctions if it annexes strategic Crimea region.
Associated Press
Mar 14, 2014

 

In a last-minute bid to stave off a new chapter in the East-West crisis over Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia on Thursday that it faces immediate and "very serious" sanctions if it annexes Ukraine's strategic Crimea region.

His comments echoed those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hours earlier said Russia risks "massive" political and economic consequences if it refuses to soften its stance against the new government in Kiev.

The warnings from the West served as a last attempt to head off a confrontation over Crimea, which holds a vote Sunday on whether to break off from Ukraine and perhaps join Russia. The showdown has been cast as a struggle for the future of Ukraine, a country with the size and population similar to France, which is caught between its long-standing ties and traditions with Russia and more progressive and economic opportunities in the West.

Kerry was headed to London later Thursday in his last meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before the Crimea vote. In a brief phone call Thursday morning, Kerry underscored U.S. concerns about the Crimea vote and made clear there will be costs if Russia continues to escalate the crisis, according to a senior State Department official familiar with the discussion. The official was not authorized to discuss the situation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kerry and Lavrov have spoken almost daily as the Ukraine crisis has unfolded but have yet to find any common ground.

At a Senate hearing, Kerry said Moscow should expect the U.S. and European Union to take measures against it on Monday if Russia accepts and acts on a decision by Crimea to secede from Ukraine. The U.S. and EU say the vote Sunday violates Ukraine's constitution and international law. Russia has said it will respect the results of the referendum.

"There will be a response of some kind of the referendum itself and, in addition, if there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here," Kerry told the Senate panel.

It was not clear, however, whether Russia would heed the warnings, and Moscow has refused demands by the West to pull back troops from Crimea and respect Ukraine's territorial boundaries. Under a long-standing security agreement with Ukraine, Russia is allowed to deploy up to 25,000 troops to the Crimean Peninsula, and has a large navy there.

"There are limits on how much blunt force, in terms of sanctions and isolation, will move somebody who doesn't seem to have been particularly responsive to that throughout his career," said John Norris, a security expert at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress think-tank in Washington. He was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Norris said, the people around Putin, including Russian business leaders and wealthy citizens who travel to the West, may have more influence on Moscow if they start feeling squeezed by sanctions. "That may not be decisive in Putin's thinking right now, but I think it does begin to move the thinking of those around him," Norris said.

Kerry said he planned to make clear how high the stakes are when he sees Lavrov in London, and suggested he would press Russia to accept "something short of a full annexation" of Crimea — but did not elaborate on what that might entail.

"My hope is that they will come aware of the fact that the international community is really strong and united on this issue," he said.

President Barack Obama has threatened sanctions against unidentified Russian officials and businesses that he has said are directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine. But Congress on Thursday put off a vote that would have approved the sanctions, as well as approve $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and International Monetary Fund revisions to help Kiev. The Senate won't vote on the measure until March 24 at the earliest, when lawmakers return from a weeklong recess.

Earlier, in Berlin, Merkel told lawmakers that the European Union and other Western nations would soon freeze bank accounts and implement travel restrictions if Russia refuses to enter "negotiations that achieve results and aren't just a play for time."

If Moscow does not begin to "de-escalate" the situation, Merkel said the 28 EU members, the U.S. and other trans-Atlantic partners were prepared to take even stronger measures that would hit Russia economically.

"If Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, that will not only be a great catastrophe for Ukraine," Merkel said in the nationally televised address. "It will cause massive damage to Russia, both economically and politically."

Still, during hours of pointed questioning by Congress, Kerry on Thursday sought to maintain a pragmatic tone. He said Ukraine should not have to choose between allying with the Western world and Russia in the East.

"We believe Russia has interests and has an ability to be able to be important to the development of Ukraine, and so does Europe," Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "And there's no reason why they shouldn't look in both directions."

Of Crimea, he added: "There's no doubt that they feel a huge tie to Russia. That can be reflected and respected without invading with your troops and having an election at the point of a gun."

 

Comments

Contango

Re: "approve $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine,"

Ukraine owes Russia approx. $3B for nat-gas supplies and interest on loans.

Wanna guess where any Western loan money is goin'?

Germany is playing 'nice.' They get 39% of their nat-gas from Russia.

Good time for Pres. Obama to get out his "pen & phone," green light the Keystone XL Pipeline and move to allow the building of LNG export facilities.

But of course the Incompetent-in-Chief will...ah...stammer and... er...stutter and do no such thing.

FYI: Russian passenger airliners are avoiding Ukrainian airspace. Bigger things to come?

CAST THE FIRST STONE

obama said if you like your plan you have you can keep it. Russia will not take him for his word. his words are weak at best.

From the Grave

We can't let Russia do this~they already dominate the world in figure skating. Not fair.

Contango

Rumor:

Pres. Obama got out his "pen and phone" and forcefully signed an executive order, ordering Russia out of the Crimea.

Putin is quaking in his обувь.

BabyMomma

Who cares? We need to stay out of it. America needs to focus on America.

Contango

Re: "Who cares?"

The DJIA was down 230 pts. yesterday in part because of the events in Ukraine.

The financial mkts. ultimately affect all of us whether we care or not.

BabyMomma

Probably because nobody can agree on what to do and Barry wants to send a billion dollars. We should just wash our hands of it and focus on Obamacare. That's what's gonna save America! Lmfao....I hate our countries leaders!

Dr. Information

Putin rides a Harley when he goes out for a ride. No helmet, leather jacket and looks like a bad butt. Obama rides a bike with head, knee, and elbow gear.

Yeah Putin isn't afraid of Obama.

Contango

Thanks for remembrance of the visual of Pres. Obama looking childlike on his lil' bicycle. :)

https://www.google.com/search?q=...

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Heh, you may enjoy this then. A couple "bad words" in there so I'd give it a solid PG-13 (keep it in mind parents/work-browsers) but stick it out until the end for how it relates to your comment.

http://youtu.be/ZT2z0nrsQ8o

deertracker

It's not our business!

BabyMomma

Then why is your Messiah trying to give them a billion?

OldRightWingNut

I have to agree. It's not our business.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/201...

Contango

So after 53 yrs. Pres. Kennedy was mistaken after all?

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

- President Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

BabyMomma

Yea, Liberty here. If they want Liberty they need to stand up on their own 2 feet and take it

OldRightWingNut

I always thought that "self determination" and "liberty" went hand in hand.

"On March 6 Obama telephoned Putin to tell the Russian President again that only Washington has the right to interfere in Ukraine and to insist against all logic that only the 'government' in Kiev installed by the Washington-organized coup is 'legitimate' and 'democratic'.”

Please see the link in my last post.

Peninsula Pundit

So 'tango is quoting Kennedy....
We shouldn't be surprised, I guess.
Even the devil can quote the Bible.
Stay out of this mess, financially and militarily.
No matter who is president, it is logistically impossible to adequately respond.

Contango

Re: "quote the Bible."

So you take the words of St. John Kennedy as gospel? :)

My GLD holdings are up nicely.

The Mkt. hates uncertainty.

OMG.LOL.WT_

@OLD NUT
"Please see the link in my last post."
I see it comes from Iran.

The Big Dog's back

Reading opinions like that all day no wonder you're an old right wingnuy.

JMOP's picture
JMOP

I think he's whispering into Kerry's ear that he really enjoyed watching him in all the "Munsters" series.

The Big Dog's back

This would be akin to Texas ceding from the U.S. and good people tried to regain sanity. We wouldn't want a foreign country intervening.

grumpy

In what way is it even close to the same? Ukraine is a country, Russia is a different country. Texas is a state. Do you know anything about global geography... don't know US geography... or don't you know the difference between a State and a country? No matter how you answer, it will be a sad thing to admit to.

The Big Dog's back

pooh, in your weak efforts to discredit me, you end up looking like a moron.

The post-Soviet states, also collectively known as the former Soviet Union (FSU)[1] or former Soviet Republics, are the 15 independent states that emerged from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its dissolution in December 1991.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pos...

grumpy

So you are equating a country that has been independent since 1991, to a Texas, that has been a State of the US since 1845?

In what way are they the same?

In what way would Texas seceding from the US be the same as Russia sending troops into the Ukraine and possibly taking over (or at least seemingly trying to do so) part of the Ukraine?

The Big Dog's back

The Big Dog's back
Fri, 03/14/2014 - 6:20pm

pooh, in your weak efforts to discredit me, you end up looking like a moron

This applys to this also.

grumpy

I repeat Piddles, how is a State (Texas) the same as a country (Ukraine)? Ukraine has been a country for over 20 years, Texas has been a state for almost 170 years. In what way are they the same?

Not being able to answer is making you look like a moron.

Dr. Information

He really can't be that dumb grump? Well………...

hilltop

Let's invade Cuba and liberate all those cherry 57 Chevys they've been driving for the past 60 years. Then after that, we can march into Venezuela and help them get "organized."

I wonder how "Kremlin-Boy" would react to that.

O Really

Who voted that we need to save, educate, police, defend & fund all these countries that hate us? It is absolute BS that the working class Americans are funding all these BS issues for people that dont give $h*t & wouldn't save our a$$ from anything.

BabyMomma

Wouldn't even give us the time of day in their country we are hated almost worldwide

hilltop

. . . . if we are hated so much, why do so many want to come here to prosper? Don't confuse what the people think about the people of America. Governments and foreign policy are viewed quite differently.

I spent a lot of time in the Pacific Rim during the late 80's. People are people wherever you go. It's easy to get along when "big brother" isn't looking over your shoulder.

O Really

People come here because they know they will be taken care of and prosper more than Americans!!!! Immigrants don't have to respect American or even like America & Americans to take our money, free healthcare & god knows what else they get just for showing up!!!