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Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Ukraine on Tuesday and condemned Russia’s use of “aggression and intimidation as a first resort” in its takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
He declared: “It is not appropriate to invade a country and, at the end of a barrel of a gun, dictate what you are trying to achieve.”
“In the hearts of Ukrainians and eyes of the world, there is nothing strong about what Russia is doing,” Kerry told reporters in Kiev.
Kerry also accused the Russian government of spreading lies about the crisis, including that ethnic Russians living in Ukraine are under threat and that the streets of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, are dangerous and rife with looting.
He called on Russia to order its troops back to their barracks, and allow international monitors to settle the dispute. Otherwise, he said, the United States and partners would keep taking steps to isolate Russia politically, diplomatically and economically.
“This is the 21st century,” Kerry said. “We should not see nations step backward to behave in 19th- or 20th-century fashion. There are ways to resolve these differences. Great nations choose to do that appropriately.”
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin reserved the right for the Russian military, which has already taken control of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, to use force to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine.