Kerry Reaffirms US Support for Europe on Ukraine, Refugees – Voice of America

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has affirmed the strong bond between the United States and Europe, saying the United States has “a profound interest” in its strength and success as it faces new tensions with Russia and a near-unprecedented flood of refugees.

Kerry made his comments in a speech Saturday at the NATO security conference in Munich, assuring U.S. allies of Washington’s support in the Ukraine crisis, the refugee crisis mainly caused from the Syrian conflict, and the question of whether Britain will remain in the European Union.

Medvedev: West has re-started Cold War

Just hours after remarks by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accused the West of restarting the Cold War, Kerry said, “It is clear today that while the Cold War is long over, the need for courage and resolve in defending liberty and pursuing peace is just as vital as it was a half century ago.”

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 13, 2016.

However, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that coordination between the Russian and U.S. military is needed for a cease-fire to work in the Syrian conflict.


Speaking after Kerry and Medvedev, Lavrov said Saturday that everyday military cooperation between those two countries in particular is “the key tool” to ensure delivery of humanitarian supplies and an end to hostilities. He complained that coordination has not gone beyond an agreement to avoid incidents among military aircraft.


Asked by the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger,  how confident he was on a 1 to 100 scale that a ”cessation of hostilities” will be implemented within a week as planned, Lavrov replied “49.”

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, sitting next to Lavrov, said it sounded more like “somewhere close to zero.”

Minsk agreement

On Ukraine, Kerry said Russia must comply with the requirements of a peace agreement brokered by Germany and France in Minsk, Belarus last year. He said, “Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face economically damaging sanctions.”

He said to get rid of the sanctions, Russia must withdraw weapons and troops from Ukraine’s Donbas region, ensure that all Ukrainian hostages are returned; allow humanitarian aid into occupied territories; support free and fair elections in Donbas; and restore Ukraine’s control of its side of the international border.

Refugee crisis

Of the refugee crisis, Kerry said the United States recognizes that while the crisis is “not yet” on American shores, the U.S. has a moral obligation to do more to assist in the relief effort. He noted that the United States recently pledged an additional $925 million to provide emergency care, education, and job help for refugees and the displaced. He said the new monies are an addition to the $4.5 billion the U.S. pledged previously.

Earlier Saturday at the same conference, Russian Prime Minister told delegates that “NATO’s policies related to Russia remain unfriendly and opaque. One could even go so far as to say we have slid back to a new Cold War.”

His words echoed a similar assessment by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the same Munich Security Conference in 2007. But Medvedev said the situation has worsened since then. He said Saturday “the picture is more grim; the developments since 2007 have been worse than anticipated.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Saturday said Moscow and Kyiv, the major players in the dispute over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, must move forward on implementing the peace deal worked out in Minsk last year. He said “not talking to each other in times of crisis can’t be the answer,” and said in a written statement the parties are “a fair way” away from implementing the deal.

NATO military build up

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with the head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, on the sidelines of the security conference after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military buildup in Europe since the Cold War.

Russia’s TASS state news agency said Lavrov expressed concern about the Western military alliance’s plans to strengthen its presence on Russia’s borders.

Earlier Friday, Russian news agencies said Lavrov and Stoltenberg discussed holding a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, but agreed that the agenda for the meeting still needs to be worked out.

NATO said on its website Friday that Stoltenberg and Lavrov “reviewed NATO-Russia relations and agreed to continue exploring the possibility of a NATO-Russia Council meeting.”


The United States is to quadruple military spending in Europe to $3.4 billion in 2017 as NATO increases troops on rotation and training, stockpiles military hardware and arms, and forms a rapid reaction force.

Russia has called NATO’s moves a threat to stability in Europe.  The military alliance says the news plans are aimed at reassuring eastern European allies concerned about Russian aggression.  


Kerry Reaffirms US Support for Europe on Ukraine, Refugees – Voice of America