2 Mar 2014

Russia behaving ‘like 19th century power’ – Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry warns against an “incredible act of aggression” and accuses President Putin of threatening to invade Ukraine on a “trumped up pretext”.

“You just don’t – in the 21st century – behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” Mr Kerry told CBS news in a television interview.

Mr Kerry also described Russia’s deployment of troops in Crimea as an “incredible act of aggression”.

“It is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country,” he said.

An incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country John Kerry

The move was born from weakness, Mr Kerry said, even desperation.

Read more: Inside Ukraine - Lindsey Hilsum blogs from a military standoff

Mr Kerry said that Russia has a path out of the conflict. But that the US is fully prepared to impose sanctions on the Russians if they pursue a military invasion of Ukraine.


President Obama has threatened Russia with political and economic isolation and Mr Kerry emphasised that economic sanctions will be tough, and backed by at least 10 other countries. He said he had spoken to many other Foreign Ministers.

“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. They’re prepared to put sanctions in place, they’re prepared to isolate Russia economically.”

Visa bans, asset freezes and other kinds of economic action would also be used against Russia, he said.

“We’re not trying to make this a battle between East and West, we’re not trying to make this a Cold War. Nobody wants this kind of action, there are many ways to resolve this kind of problem.”

Read more: Paul Mason on the threat of economic war between Russia and the west