Secretary of State John Kerry testified at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he once chaired, addressing the most recent unrest in Ukraine, which included the storming of government buildings by pro-Russian demonstrators.
Kerry warned that the "chaos," largely happening in eastern Ukraine, has been instigated by "Russian special forces and agents" and that Russia could be trying to manufacture a "pretext for military intervention," as he said it did in Crimea. Pro-Russian forces squeezed Ukrainian authorities out of Crimea and a pro-Russian puppet government pushed through a referendum to join Russia. An improbable 95 percent of Crimean voters allegedly approved annexation by Russia.
The U.S. responded to Russia's annexation by extending sanctions that had been imposed when pro-Russian forces first began to occupy Crimea. Those sanctions targeted specific officials tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin and their companies. The sanctions may have cost Finland a Miley Cyrus concert.
Kerry suggested Russia could face yet more U.S. sanctions over the unrest in eastern Ukraine, warning that the country's banking, energy, and mining sectors would be targeted. As Reason's J.D. Tuccille noted, Russia has paid, and is paying, a steep price for its actions in Crimea—its economic performance is deteriorating not because of limited U.S. sanctions but because market actors, by and large, have taken a dim view of the country in the wake of its neo-imperialist moves. "Bureaucratic penalties," Tuccille wrote, "don't function with the speed of scared investors getting their money the hell out."
Kerry has agreed to meet with diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, and the European Union within the next week and a half.