Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kiev and spoke out on the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, demanding an immediate ceasefire.
According to Rikard Jozwiak of Radio Free Europe, Kerry implored Russia to “demonstrate its commitment to ending the bloodshed” in Ukraine, by ending support for separatists, removing its military presence from Ukrainian soil and encouraging rebels to obey a cease-fire. For his part, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich claimed that any provision of arms to Ukraine by the U.S. would be perceived as a threat to Russia’s security, writes Timothy Heritage of Yahoo News.
Possible U.S. military assistance
Pressure has been growing in both Washington and Kiev for the U.S. to provide arms to the Ukrainian military, although the official line from the government is that it would prefer to reach a diplomatic solution. U.S. military assistance would be possible, under legislation passed last year.
Lukashevich said Russia was also concerned by the creation of a joint Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian military force for peacekeeping operations, as well as the strengthening of NATO forces in eastern Europe. The addition of forces near Russia’s borders was of deep concern, he added. Back in Brussels, NATO defense ministers claimed that they were acting in response to “aggressive actions” by Russia.
Kerry offers a peaceful solution for Russia and Ukraine
In his speech, Kerry was unequivocal in blaming Moscow for the ongoing problems in Ukraine. The war has so far killed more than 5,350 people since April. He blamed the conflict on “Russia’s continued aggression in the east” and asked for Moscow to make “an immediate commitment, now, to a real cease-fire.”
He added the need for the removal of heavy weapons from separation lines, which were agreed in a now largely redundant peace plan made in September. Compliance with these diplomatic initiatives is the only way that Kerry can foresee the end to Russia’s “international isolation,” a reference to the economic sanctions and other measures which have been imposed by the U.S. and the European Union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that the U.S. is intent on weakening Russia, which Kerry firmly denied. The Secretary of State said that the confrontation in Ukraine is “about the rule of law” and is not a “zero-sum game” designed to negatively affect Russia.