Russian President Vladimir Putin's move Tuesday to begin the annexation of Crimea places him on "the wrong side of history," Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.
Kerry offered the first high-level response to Putin’s defiant speech laying claim to Crimea as a historic part of Russia and criticizing the U.S. and Europe’s response to the crisis in front of an audience of students at the State Department.
"I was really struck and somewhat surprised and disappointed by the interpretations and the facts as they were articulated by the president," Kerry said. "With all due respect, they really didn't jibe at all with reality or what's happening on the ground."
Kerry said it was clear that Russia had intended to complete its annexation of Crimea, and issued a stern warning against further Russian incursions into Eastern Ukraine by Putin's government.
"We have made it very clear that that’s a hard line in terms of the level -- I mean, that will be a major breach and I hope we don’t get there," Kerry said of the possibility of a further Russian incursion into Ukraine's east.
"This is very questionable activity and I think we have to be very wary of it, but I am not going to go into all the specifics except to say that that would be just an enormous challenge to the global community and it would require a response that is commensurate with the level of that challenge," Kerry added.
First published March 18 2014, 11:10 AM