Secretary of State John Kerry told a private meeting that the US intercepted orders from Moscow that prove Russia is behind the violence in east Ukraine.
“We know exactly who’s giving those orders, we know where they are coming from,” he said, in remarks to a private meeting that were leaked on Tuesday.
“Intel is producing taped conversations of intelligence operatives taking their orders from Moscow and everybody can tell the difference in the accents, in the idioms, in the language.”
The Daily Beast obtained recordings of the meeting, which were leaked Tuesday, and reported that Kerry did not name any specific Russian officials.
But he claimed that the intercepts provided proof of the Russians deliberately fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine–and lying about it to U.S. officials and the public.
“It’s not an accident that you have some of the same people identified who were in Crimea and in Georgia and who are now in east Ukraine,” said Kerry. “This is insulting to everybody’s intelligence, let alone to our notions about how we ought to be behaving in the 21st century. It’s thuggism, it’s rogue state-ism. It’s the worst order of behavior.”
Uprisings in east Ukraine began after Parliament ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22. However, the first major uprising occurred in Crimea. Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula on March 22 even though the West does not recognize the move. Russia promised not to take more land from Ukraine, but Kyiv points the finger at Moscow for the violence and takeovers in the east.
In the recordings, Kerry did not have anything nice to say about Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov previously promised Kerry, the European Union, and Ukraine that Russia would work with the three to bring peace to the east.
Kerry, however, has little trust and called his interactions with Lavrov “Kafka-esque:”
“Right now there is not a negotiation; there is a confrontation. I’m sad to report I’ve never seen such a complete, miserable, unaccountable, disgraceful walk away from a set of promises and understandings than what has taken place,” Kerry said. “I’ve had six conversations with Lavrov in the last weeks. The last one was Kafka-esque, it was other planet, it was just bizarre. Nobody is better at telling you that red is blue and black is white… That’s what we are dealing with.”
Indeed, when Ukraine attempts to take back buildings and areas occupied by pro-Russians, Moscow takes a strong stance and says the moves are unacceptable. In one case, five pro-Russians were killed, and Moscow said because of the deaths the Russian troops on the border were going to engage in military exercises in case Russia needs to invade to protect Russian interests.