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Kerry takes aim at Russia over Ukraine and Syria


    U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, gestures during his speech at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany on Saturday.

MUNICH >> U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday sharply criticized Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Syria, accusing Moscow of “repeated aggression” in both places.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference, Kerry said Russia is defying the will of the international community with its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and its military intervention in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Assad.

His comments came just after Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told the conference that the West is rekindling the Cold War with sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine and with new NATO moves.

Kerry praised European nations for holding firm on the Ukraine penalties. He urged Moscow to act in good faith in forging a truce in Syria and to allow a political transition that would end the civil war.

He repeated allegations that Russian airstrikes in Syria have not been directed at terrorists but rather at moderate opposition groups supported by the U.S. and its European and Arab partners. Kerry also said that Russia would have to change tactics if an agreement Friday for a temporary truce in Syria is to actually take effect in a week.

“To date, the vast majority, in our opinion, of Russia’s attacks have been against legitimate opposition groups and to adhere to the agreement it made, we think it is critical that Russia’s targeting change,” Kerry said. “If people who want to be part of the conversation are being bombed, we’re not going to have much of a process.”

Kerry added that the only way to end the Syrian conflict and ultimately defeat the Islamic State group is a political transition that removes Assad from power.

“Some argue that the reason humanitarian access has been denied and indiscriminate bombing continues is because Assad and his allies, including Russia, might believe that by defying the will of the international community, they can win the war,” he said. “If that is what Russia and Assad think, then I believe they would have been missing the lessons of the last five years.”

The opposition “may be pushed back here and there but they are not going to surrender,” Kerry said.

On Ukraine, Kerry said Russia would continue to be subject to sanctions until it and the rebels it supports in the east come into full compliance with a political agreement reached last year in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

“Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face economically damaging sanctions,” he said.

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  • I think that this kind of talk will lead nowhere.
    The Crimea is historically part of Russia and was only part of the Ukraine because the the Ukraine was part of the USSR, i.e. effectively part of Russia
    NATO has surrounded Russia, right up to its doorstep, with countries that have little to do with the “North Atlantic” Making Turkey part of NATO was bound to be viewed as provocative.

    There needs to be an immediate ceasefire in Syria, and as long as Kerry goes on making statements like this, that there can be no progress until Assad is gone, the US is implicit in the bloodshed.
    Assad represents a powerful minority in Syria, and in that region it seems you need to retain this to survive.
    Russia has its only Med. seaport in Syria.
    Ignoring all these facts, with platitudes and fabricated generalities will lead to nothing but more grief.

    • Putin is right. The Krim was donated to Ukraine by Khrushchev because he hailed from there. It was wrong. Putin is right to take it back and btw the majority of the residents wanted it that way. And Ukraine is a rotten State which would be better off to be part of Russia. Kerry is a fool to criticize.

      • Two corrupt pieces should stay together. Don’t interfere. Ukraine is bankrupt and is where Chernobyl. We do NOT want anything to do with them. Just a black hole we must avoid. Like Iraq, we should let them solve their own problems. Let Europe help their neighbor.

    • Swift Boat Kerry should just shut up and fade away. He gets no respect and only causes trouble for our country. Thank God he and his boss will soon be gone.

      • I know you won’t respond. But, question, what is the position we should take? What is the position of the candidate you are advocating for in the upcoming election?

        • We should stop supporting the rebels. They are our enemies too. It is not Assad but them who started this war. Of all those Arab countries Syria was the best governed and these countries need dictators or fail into anarchy and terrorism.

  • It’s hard not believe that the true target from the very beginning when US stepped into the Middle East would eventually lead up to Iran, thus drawing Russia and China into the mix. The main goal is towards creating that “New World Order” which Papa Bush, the UN and NATO wants to bring about. But the one who sits at the head of the table is what I believe this is all about.

  • Imagine how different this story would be after a Republican is elected. Trump believes the Putin is a great leader, and Cruz wants to carpet bomb Syrian civilians.

  • The US started this problem with Russia by expending NATO membership into Eastern Europe and into the Ukraine. Having NATO at their doorstep naturally made Russia react.
    As far as Russia bombing the so called Muslim moderates, there are no real moderates. Yes, they rose up against Assad but they have no love for the West and will certainly turn
    against us the moment they overthrow Assad and slaughter his Alowite muslim tribe and his supporters.
    Russia was very clear from the beginning that they would fight with Assad against any and all of his opponents whether they be Al Queda offshoots or ISiS, or our CIA trained
    and supported muslim radical groups.
    As far as inflicting civilian casualties, Russia and Assad really have no options as their opponents hide among the civilian population and use them as shields very much like
    the Nazi’s did in WWII, when they tied civilians to their armored vehicles to deter Allied fighters and bombers from knocking out their armored columns . This ploy did not work
    as the Allies went ahead and bombed and destroyed the tanks and vehicles knowing very well that they were killing innocent women and children who were being used as shields.
    War is nasty business, let no one kind you and the kind of war being waged in Syria is what has been termed, “total war” which means there is no one who is immune from attack.

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