In Kyiv on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry exuded the ferocious machismo of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy by telling reporters that the United States would not “close our eyes” to Russian tanks and fighters that had crossed into the Ukraine. That must have been welcome news to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, who held a discussion with Kerry prior to Kerry’s bold statement.
“We talked about the largest threat that Ukraine faces today, and that is Russia’s continued aggression in the east. There’s no other way to call it. We can’t close our eyes to tanks coming across the border,” Kerry intoned, adding “(or) Russian fighters coming across the border.” Kerry quickly added that no one is “seeking a conflict with Russia.”
“Our choice is diplomacy,” Kerry said loftily, blustering that the U.S. is considering giving Ukraine lethal military aid. Poroshenko did not challenge Kerry to stand tall, instead saying that Ukraine appreciates U.S. support, including the “consistent engagement” of the U.S. State Department. He has already urged NATO to provide Kyiv with modern weapons.
Kerry spoke later, accompanied by Ukraine’s prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and really threw down the gauntlet, saying it was up to Russian President Vladimir Putin to “make the choices that could end this war.”
Katsenyuk asserted that Ukraine wants Russia to honor the Minsk agreement, which was signed in September, and added that Ukraine will not agree to any peace plan “that undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence of Ukraine and its European future.”
Kerry said he had not entirely digested a joint proposal from France and Germany designed to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but still claimed Europe and the U.S. were united in their resolve to end hostilities. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Ukraine before heading to Moscow to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
One Western diplomat said a new Russian proposal to France and Germany regarding Ukraine “is not a peace plan. It is a roadmap to creating a new Transnistria or Abkhazia in Ukraine. It is a cynical effort to get out of all the commitments made in Minsk.”
The French and Germans are wary of any shipment of U.S. arms to Ukraine, fearing hostilities will escalate. GOP Senator John McCain said Thursday that Congress will legislate sending arms to Ukraine if President Obama does not.