US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Russia against any military incursion into eastern Ukraine and likened the “nationalistic fervour” fuelled by the Crimea crisis to the build-up before World War II.
Any moves by Russia to march into eastern Ukraine “would be as egregious as any step that I can think of that would be taken by a country in today’s world, particularly by a country like Russia, where so much is at stake,” Kerry said on Tuesday.
“Now I hope we don’t get there,” he told a gathering of students at the State Department, adding it “would be just an enormous challenge to the global community and it would require a response that is commensurate with the level of that challenge”.
The top US diplomat said he did not want to start laying out options for any US or global response to any Russian move into eastern Ukraine “until we measure where we are” after Moscow absorbed Crimea into the Russian Federation.
“Today is egregious enough when you raise this nationalistic fervour which could in fact infect in ways which could be very, very dangerous,” Kerry said.
“All you have to do is go back and read in history of the lead up to World War II and the passions that were released with that kind of nationalistic fervour.
“And obviously there’s a tough history of things like Czechoslovakia in 1968, where the alleged rationale for going into the country was to protect the people in it,” he said.
“You can ask the Poles how they felt being `protected’ for all those years,” Kerry added.
The US on Monday unveiled a slew of sanctions against seven Russians in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and warned of further moves.
“There are more to come,” warned White House spokesman Jay Carney, condemning Russia’s “moves to formally annex” Crimea.