Kerry ratchets up anti-Russia rhetoric as Ukraine spirals
US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Russia with more sanctions, blaming Moscow for escalating violence in Ukraine. Kiev’s “anti-terror operation” in the country's east was, however, not mentioned.
“The world knows that peaceful protesters don’t come armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons,” Kerry said.
Two months ago, Kerry called on ousted president Viktor Yanukovich to choose “compromise and dialogue versus violence and mayhem.”
This time Kerry did not call on the interim authorities in Kiev to have a dialogue with the east. He claims the protests in the east of Ukraine are totally orchestrated by Russia.
Kerry’s described protesters as those brandishing “the latest issue from the Russian arsenal, hiding the insignias on their brand new matching military uniforms, and speaking in dialects that every local knows comes from thousands of miles away.”
Kerry again cited photographs – the most notorious of which Kiev claimed proved the involvement of Russians in Ukraine.
“Some of the individual special operations personnel, who were active on Russia’s behalf in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea have been photographed in Slavyansk, Donetsk, and [Lugansk],” he said.
The New York Times, which carried the photos and unverified claims from Kiev, published a climbdown two days later - ‘Scrutiny Over Photos Said to Tie Russia Units to Ukraine’, where it admitted failing to properly verify the Kiev photo dossier.
The photographer who took and published a key photo contradicted Kiev’s claim it had been taken in Russia. While the State Department acknowledged the error, Kerry continued to refer to ‘evidence’.
“No amount of propaganda will hide the truth, and the truth
is there in the social media and across the pages of newspapers
and in the video of televisions for all of the world to see.”
Kerry cited NATO’s top military commander Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who claims “a military operation” is being “carried out at the direction of Russia.” Contrarily EU intelligence head, Commodore Georgij Alafuzoff, assessed the so-called ‘green men’ are “mostly people who live in the region who are not satisfied with the current state of affairs.”
Speaking on behalf of “the world,” Kerry “rightly judged” that Ukraine’s interim government is “working in good faith” and has implemented all the points of the Geneva agreement.
“By complying with actions requested by Russia, like removing the barricades in the Maidan and cleaning up the square and ensuring that all ongoing demonstrations in Kiev are actually government-approved and peaceful, Ukraine is thereby taking tangible, concrete steps to move beyond the division of the last months,” he said.
Kerry said that “Ukraine was largely stable and peaceful, including in the south and the east.” At the same time Kerry accused Russian officials of not willing to go on television in Ukraine and call on “separatists” to surrender.
His Russian counterpart, FM Sergey Lavrov is unequivocal, however. “All illegally armed groups must be disarmed. All the illegally seized buildings must be returned to their owners. All streets, squares and other public spaces in all Ukrainian cities must be vacated.”
The US, meanwhile, approves of Kiev’s “anti-terror operation” against East Ukraine despite it breaching the Geneva deal and concerns it will spark a conflict spiral.