Secretary of State John Kerry reacted aggressively when Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch suggested the Obama administration’s tactics are letting the Russians “misbehave even worse” in the crisis in Ukraine.
Kerry replied by telling Risch about “the realities of the world.”
Video of Tuesday’s exchange in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Kerry chaired before becoming secretary of state in 2013, was published online by NBC News and is embedded below:
On Tuesday, Risch sent the Statesman a news release with a different excerpt from the hearing, which features Risch urging Kerry to help free Boise pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012. The Statesman published that clip, but not until today did I see the parrying over Ukraine.
Said Risch to Kerry regarding Russian incursion in Ukraine:
“They misbehave, then we sit down at the table, we make some kind of an agreement and they misbehave even worse after the agreement. So maybe you could give us a little taste of what you’re gonna tell (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov when you meet with him next week?”
Replied Kerry: “Well, let me give you what I consider a taste of reality, senator, about our foreign policy and the realities of the world. Georgia happened under George Bush. Georgia happened under George Bush.
“And he didn’t even bring a sanction. President Obama has brought sanctions and it’s having an impact. You can ask —”
Risch, doubtful, interjected, “It’s having an impact?”
Kerry: “Yes it is. And the fact is it will have a far more serious impact if they cross over or continue what’s happening in East Ukraine.
“Now, I don’t know anybody in the United States of America who said we ought to go to war over Crimea. Is there any member of this committee who believes that? I don’t think so.
“So what are we doing? We’re using 21st century tools, which are the tools of diplomacy to bring people together in other countries to put sanctions in place. And we now have announced the possibility of using sector sanctions. Now that’s serious business. Serious business.”
Risch is running for a second six-year term this year against Democrat Nels Mitchell.
Risch, a former governor, lieutenant governor and longtime Idaho legislator, is considered to hold one of the safest Republican seats in the country.