Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday warned Russia that it would face tougher economic sanctions if it doesn’t stop meddling in eastern Ukraine.
The Obama administration and its allies in Europe are united and willing to impose tough new sanctions “on those orchestrating this action and on key sectors of the Russian economy — in energy, banking, mining — they’re all on the table,” Mr. Kerry told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“[T]he United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th century behavior,” he added.
President Obama has already signed an executive order to implement sanctions if Russia does not de-escalate its actions in Ukraine, which started with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula last month.
The Obama administration says Russia is behind the current unrest in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol.
“Russia’s clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing,” Mr. Kerry said.
“No one should be fooled — and believe me, no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea,” he added.
Mr. Kerry said it was clear that Russian special forces and agents have been “the catalysts behind the chaos of the last 24 hours.”
Mr. Kerry said Russia has the choice of either working with the international community or facing greater isolation and paying the cost “for their failure to see that the world is not a zero-sum game.”
On Monday, Mr. Kerry raised his concerns about Russian actions in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov agreed to meet with European and Ukrainian officials in Europe next week.
“It is not, in our judgment, a small matter that Russia has agreed to sit in this four-party status with Ukraine at the table in an effort to try to forge a road ahead,” Mr. Kerry said.
Before that meeting, Russia must take concrete steps to disavow separatist actions in eastern Ukraine, pull back its forces outside Ukraine and demonstrate that they are prepared to come to these discussions to do what is necessary to de-escalate, he added.