Secretary of State John Kerry is warning Russia that unless the nation changes its course in Ukraine, serious consequences are in store. Kerry gave Russia a Monday deadline.
The deadline should come as no surprise when Crimea is holding a referendum vote on Sunday to determine whether or not to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. U.S. and European officials argue that Moscow is orchestrating the referendum and waging an intimidation campaign with thousands of Russian troops controlling the region. Already, western powers have insisted that any vote from Crimea to secede from Ukraine would be illegitimate.
Kerry spoke before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday and explained “There will be a response of some kind to the referendum itself.” Kerry went on to say, “If there is no sign [from Russia] of any capacity to respond to this issue … there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday.”
The big question, what kind of steps is Kerry referring to? Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Kerry if the U.S. would intervene militarily if the Russians attempted to move further west into Ukraine and threatened the new government in Kiev. Kerry’s response… “we have contingencies – we are talking through various options that may or may not be available.”
Meanwhile, according to a report from the New York Times, the Russians are amassing military armored vehicles and troops along Ukraine’s eastern border in advance of Sunday’s vote. Because the vast majority of those in Crimea have Russian heritage and are Russian speaking, Sunday’s vote will likely move in favor of seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.