Secretary of State John Kerry had harsh words today for Vladimir Putin, saying he is surprised and disappointed in a speech the Russian president gave about the country’s right to take over Crimea from Ukraine.
“It really just didn’t jibe with reality or with what’s happening on the ground,” Kerry said, speaking to a group of university students at the State Department. “The president may have his version of history, but I believe that he and Russia, for what they have done, are on the wrong side of history.”
Kerry refused to give any details about what the United States will do if Russia goes further toward annexing the Crimean peninsula but said such an act would be as “egregious as any step that I can think of that could be taken by a country in today’s world, particularly by a country like Russia where so much is at stake.”
He suggested that the United States didn’t believe the Kremlin would move beyond Crimea given Putin’s speech today, which focused on the historical ties Russia and the Ukraine have. Kerry acknowledged those ties but said they were no excuse for the invasion.
“Russia has an enormous historical connection to Ukraine,” Kerry said. “We know this, but that doesn’t legitimize just taking what you want because you want it or because you’re angry about the end of the Cold War or the end of the Soviet Union.”