Nightly News   |  March 02, 2014

Will America’s Tough Talk Turn into Action?

Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia has used force in an “inappropriate manner” and now he’ll head to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian officials.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the u.s. may, in fact, have limited ability to influence the course of its conflict. nonetheless, as we said, secretary of state john kerry is going to travel to kiev tomorrow. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house to tell us more on this. kristen?

>> reporter: lester, secretary kerry 's trip comes after a flurry of telephone zploediplomacy this weekend, threatening to boycott the summit which will be held in sochi . vladimir vladimir putin doesn't seem to be listening.

>> it's really 19th century behavior in the 21st century .

>> reporter: secretary of state kerry said the country will, quote, pay a price if president vladimir putin doesn't withdraw his forces from ukraine.

>> he is not going to have a sochi g-8. he may not even remain in the g-8 if this continues. he may find himself with asset freezes on russian business, american business may pull back. there may be a further tumble of the currency.

>> reporter: prepared to isolate russia economically, but that tough talk contrasts with the secretary's big descriptions of how far the u.s. is prepared to go.

>> the last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of a situation.

>> reporter: the u.s. and several of its g-8 partners, including britain, france, italy and canada have said they won't attend the planning meetings for the g- economic summit, which will be held in sochi , russia , the same place as the olympics. a move described as purely symbolic by some experts. a security council spokesman acknowledges the u.s. has few options.

>> you can sanction putin , take away veezias f avisas for certain members of parliament .

>> reporter: but vladimir putin has heard it all before . president george w. bush , when russia invaded georgia in 2008 . putin feels he is in a similar position of strength now.

>> he does not care and in many ways his action is directly for that purpose, to show swagger in the world.

>> reporter: and he says america is tired of war, which gives putin even more leverage.

>> that's american weakness to be taken advantage of. he knows where we are historically, psychologically and he certainly understands where barack obama is. and that's in a mode of withdrawing from wars.

>> reporter: now this all started with western-leaning ukrainians wanting to strengthen economic ties with the west. kerry called on congress to put together an economic package for ukraine on top of a billion dollar loan already