Kerry warns Russia of further sanctions after London talks

UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond, left, and US secretary of state John Kerry hold a press conference on Saturday.The Guardian

Further sanctions are set to be imposed on Russia in the coming days as the international community steps up pressure on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

US secretary of state John Kerry, who held talks with foreign secretary Philip Hammond in London on Saturday, described Russia’s conduct as “simply unacceptable”.  

“Russia has engaged in an absolutely brazen and cynical process over these last days,” he said. “We know to a certainty what Russia has been providing to the separatists, how Russia is involved with the separatists.

“We are talking about additional sanctions, about additional efforts, and I’m confident over the next days people will make it clear that we are not going to play this game,” he added.

“We’re not going to sit there and be part of this kind of extraordinarily craven behaviour at the expense of the sovereignty and integrity of a nation.”

Hammond condemned the way in which the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk had been “systematically breached”.

“We are going to talk about how we can maintain European unity and US-European alignment in response to those breaches,” he said.

This follows warnings from the Ukrainian military that it is bracing for a rebel attack on the port city of Mariupol – the largest city still under government control in the two rebellious eastern provinces.

Kiev military accused Russia on Friday of sending more tanks and troops towards the rebel-held town of Novoazovsk, further east along the Sea of Azov coast from Mariupol, expanding their presence on what it fears could be the next battlefront.

An attack on Mariupol would kill off a European-brokered ceasefire.

“The adversary is carrying out a build-up of military equipment, weapons and fighters in the Mariupol area with the aim of a possible offensive on it,” military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.

“They are sending out small sabotage groups out almost every night. We can see the activities of the enemy around Novoazovsk where military hardware, fighters and ammunition are being amassed.”

One Ukrainian soldier had been killed and 40 others had been wounded in attacks in eastern Ukraine by the Russian-backed separatists in the past 24 hours, he said.

The most senior British military officer in Nato warned on Friday that Russian expansionist ambitions could quickly become “an obvious existential threat to our whole being”.

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, appointed last year as Nato’s deputy commander of forces in Europe, said the alliance needed to develop both fast-reacting conventional forces and capacities to counter Russian efforts at coercion and propaganda, as seen in Ukraine.

Talking of “an era of constant competition with Russia”, Bradshaw told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute on Friday that Nato had to maintain a cohesive system of deterrence on its eastern borders, something that would require help from the EU.

He said Nato was pushing ahead with plans for a joint taskforce “in order to convince Russia, or any other state adversary, that any attack on one Nato member will inevitably lead them into a conflict with the whole alliance”.

Ukraine accused Moscow on Friday of sending more tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine despite a European-brokered truce that went into force last Sunday.

Moscow did not immediately respond to the accusation but has in the past denied the charge that its forces are fighting in Ukraine.

Western nations have clung to the diplomatic route in dealing with the conflict, even though the rebels seized the strategic town of Debaltseve in defiance of the ceasefire brokered by Germany and France, inflicting one of the worst defeats on Kiev in the 10-month-old conflict.

Last year the European Union, the United States and other western nations imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Russia in response to its incursions in Ukraine that have restricted trade. Russian banks and other financial institutions have also been hit, while travel bans and asset freezes were imposed on leading members of president Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

The Obama administration is weighing the possibility of arming Ukraine’s military to defend itself – an option former defence secretary Liam Fox has argued for.

Fox said that Britain and other western powers should start supplying sophisticated weaponry to the Ukrainian government to enable it to fight back against the heavily armed, Russian-backed separatist rebels.

“Specifically what we should be giving them is encrypted communications, because at moment the old systems that they are using make them a sitting target for the Russians, whose technology is much bigger,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

“Secondly, they need anti-tank weapons because the Russians are using new, better-armoured vehicles against which the Ukrainians have no defence. Thirdly they need UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for targeting.”

David Cameron has warned Vladimir Putin of “more consequences” if a ceasefire in Ukraine does not hold.

Speaking on a visit to Govan shipyard in Glasgow on Friday, the prime minister said the responsibility for what had happened in Ukraine “lies absolutely squarely with Vladimir Putin and Russia”, and a strong response was needed.

One thought on “Kerry warns Russia of further sanctions after London talks

  1. “Specifically what we should be giving them is encrypted communications, because at moment the old systems that they are using make them a sitting target for the Russians, whose technology is much bigger,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.”

    wow… much “bigger”, huh?

    And here I thought the goal of technology was to miniaturize everything, make it as small as possible.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.