Nightly News   |  April 08, 2014

Kerry: Russia Responsible for Rioting in Ukraine

The U.S. says Russia is trying to destabilize and topple Ukraine’s new, pro-Western government – without using the troops massed on Ukraine’s border.

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

>>> good evening and while the world has been distracted elsewhere suddenly once again the prospect of military action by one of the world's superpowers is being called a very real possibility. today the standoff between russia and what remains of ukraine took on a new urgency because there's violence in the streets once again. violence in parliament of all places. and people are tossing around terms like civil war again. it's largely pro russia violence in parts of ukraine and many are blaming russia for stirring it up with 30,000 troops let's not forget on their side of the border. it's a dicey situation once again and we begin tonight with our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell . good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. the u.s. said today russia is trying to destabilize and topple ukraine 's pro western new government. rioting in cities across pro russia ukraine . armed men in this video posted by ukrainian media occupying a security headquarters in luhansk, holding 60 hostages. a television station taken over in kharkiv. even in kiev the capital, a fist fight in parliament between moscow partisans and supporters of ukraine 's new government. secretary of state kerry told the senate today russia is behind it all.

>> everything that we've seen in the last 48 hours from russia 's agents operating in eastern ukraine tells us that they've been sent there determined to create chaos.

>> reporter: russian foreign minister tweeted in english stop laying the blame at our door. kerry faced a buzz saw of republican criticism.

>> on the issue of ukraine , my hero, teddy roosevelt used to say talk softly but carry a big stick . what you're doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick in fact a stick.

>> reporter: kerry hit back.

>> teddy roosevelt also said the corrected belongs to the people who are in the arena trying to get things done. we're trying to get something done. that's a teddy roosevelt maxism.

>> reporter: republican critics are skeptical this will do any good but today vladimir putin finally agreed to the first direct talks between moscow and ukraine 's new leaders also including the european union and secretary kerry to be held sometime next week.