Kerry on plane disaster: ‘Moment of truth’ for Putin

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) — The United States upped pressure on Vladimir Putin on Sunday over his response to the Malaysia Airlines jet shoot-down in eastern Ukraine, with Secretary of State John Kerry noting on CNN that it was a “moment of truth” for the Russian president.

Kerry and key congressional lawmakers from both parties sharpened the focus on Putin to, as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein said, “man up” and lead.

There was concern, however, that Moscow’s behavior since Thursday’s destruction of Flight 17 by a missile the United States believes was fired by Russian-backed rebels further underscores Putin’s hardening preference for Cold War-era politics.

“This is going back to the days of Stalin, and Khrushchev and Brezhnev,” Republican Rep. Peter King said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The way he’s responding to a crisis, which he caused, which everyone knows he did, and yet he goes underground. This is what a mafia guy does. This is what a goon does. Not a world leader. Not someone in the civilized world.”

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether the incident has pushed U.S.-Russian relations back to Cold War-era levels, Feinstein simply said, “yes.”

Outrage expressed

Governments from around the world have expressed outrage at the disorderly situation at the remote crash site about 40 miles from Russia’s border and called on Putin to use his influence on the pro-Russian rebels.

Since the crash that killed nearly 300 people, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels have traded bitter accusations over who was responsible and what has been done since.

Russia has denied any involvement, and Putin said Ukraine’s military campaign against the rebels was to blame.

But Secretary of State John Kerry said it would be “ridiculous” for the international community trust what Putin has said.

Kerry said there was a “buildup of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” that the rebels were behind it and that the suspect rocket system used was transferred to them from Russia, which denies it’s military equipment crossed the border.

“This is a very, very critical moment for Russia to step up publicly and join in the effort in order to make sure there is a full-fledged investigation,” Kerry told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The crash site near the town of Torez in the Donetsk region is under rebel control and the situation was said to be far from organized.

Negotiations were being held for the release of nearly 200 recovered bodies, and there were reports some of the dead had been looted. International investigators have limited access.

Kerry said that he spoke Saturday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in what he called a “direct and tough conversation.”

Russia needs to help ensure that investigators can conduct a thorough investigation, Kerry said.

“This is the moment of truth for Russia and for Mr. Putin,” Kerry said.

Not shooting from hip

But while Kerry urged Russia to allow for a complete investigation, he did not lay out specific repercussions for the Russians. He said they are being discussed with European allies.

He added on “Fox News Sunday” that the United States wasn’t going to “shoot from the hip,” but instead respond in a “thoughtful way.”

When pressed on “Meet the Press” that the Obama administration is giving Russia too much maneuvering room, Kerry said the world is “complicated.”

He pointed to Russia’s cooperation removing chemical weapons in Syria and other parts of the world.

“Russia is working with us in a cooperative way on the P5 + 1,” which are the talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

The Obama administration criticized

But Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Kerry’s response was not severe enough.

“He didn’t call Putin the thug that he is. He didn’t call for arming Ukraine so they can defend themselves,” Graham said on “Meet the Press.”

Reaction from Republicans plays into the ongoing narrative that Republicans paint of the President’s foreign policy leadership as being weak and indecisive.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said the response by the Obama administration since Russia began its annexation of Crimea has been “timid and cautious.”

It has “kept Putin from really paying a price inside his country for the actions that have been taken,” he said on “Fox.”

“The United States needs to end its tepid response,” Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Community, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

He called for “aggressive” help for the Ukrainian military.

Others called for more even tougher sanctions on Russia’s energy and banking sectors, which the administration escalated this past week just before the plane crash.

King, who sits on both the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees, said global response should also consider relieving Russia from hosting the 2018 of the World Cup.

Pressure on Europeans

Kerry and Republicans and Democrats were in agreement, however, regarding the role of the Europeans who have been reluctant to impose tough sanctions against Russia because of their reliance of Russian energy.

“We hope this will be a wake-up call for some countries in Europe that have wanted to stand back and give this more time and worry about the trade relationship,” Kerry said on “Meet the Press,” repeating a sentiment expressed by President Barack Obama last week.

Corker said the western countries response to Russia in the past six months has been “tragic.”

“I’ve been indredibly discouraged by not only the U.S. response, but by the European response,” he said on Fox.

On the same program, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States and Europe have “to have a far more significant response than we’ve seen to date.”

A new Cold War?

Members of Congress issued their own much more dire warning of Putin.

On “State of the Union,” Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said, “Mr. Putin is returning to a Cold War” posture.

“And I think this is a game changer, what happened, the downing of this commercial flight by separatists tied to Putin,” McCaul said.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser for Jimmy Carter, believes Putin, if anything, has started a new Cold War.

“He has gotten himself into horrendous jam. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia’s status in the world is dramatically being undermined,” Brzezinksi said Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

By Leigh Ann Caldwell

CNN’s Shannon Travis contributed to this report

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News