John Kerry has arrived in Kiev. The Secretary of State is wielding humanitarian aid for the new Ukrainian government in one hand and a threat of further sanctions on Russia in the other, hoping to deter President Vladimir Putin from sending his troops further into Ukraine.
According to theWashington Post, Kerry arrived in Kiev to visit a memorial to the civilians killed during the wave of protests following former President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to refuse a deal with the European Union and establish closer trade ties to Russia. While on the trip, Kerry promised the new government $1 billion, pending congressional approval. The goal was to entice the Ukrainian government closer to the West by promising to help them rebuild what is now a deeply divided and partially invaded nation. Kerry is set to stay in Kiev for the entirety of his trip, rather than visit the most embattled part of the country, the southwestern peninsula of Crimea, whose ethnically Russian population is trying to break away from the nation and, with the help of Russian troops, return to the Russian Federation.
Secretary of State Kerry’s news was not all good tidings and presents. Kerry promised economic sanctions against Russia “in days, not weeks,” for their increased military presence in Crimea and threats to spread across the entirety of the Ukrainian landscape. The United States has already halted some trade talks with Russia, after declaring that Russia effectively governs Crimea currently, thanks to an overwhelming military presence there that threatens the security of ethnic minorities in the region.
The threat of more sanctions on Russia arrives just as President Vladimir Putin announces the new steps he expects to take in the area, claiming that the presence of Russian troops in Crimea is “completely legitimate” because former President Viktor Yanukovych requested Russia’s help, and he, according to Putin, is still the ruler of Ukraine. This echoes the statement by Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, who also claimed that any request from Yanukovych, despite his exiled status and an interim Prime Minister currently in place, must be obeyed. Putin also claimed, “We have neo-Nazis and Nazis and anti-Semites in parts of Ukraine, including Kiev,” despite the fact that much of the Ukrainian Jewish population supports the new government over Yanukovych and are calling for Russia to leave the country.
Kerry is in Kiev following stronger language from President Obama, who stated earlier this week that the military movements Putin has begun in the region place him “on the wrong side of history.”