Hat/Tip to CNS News.
Secretary of State John Kerry commented on the upcoming end to the cease fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian forces, saying that Russia should “literally” disarm said pro-Russian forces.
Then, the State Department releases a statement saying NOT to take Kerry’s comments “literally.”
You just can’t make this stuff up.
With the clock running down on a ceasefire between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called on Russia to show, “in the next hours, literally,” that it was working on disarming the militias.
Hours later, however, a senior State Department official said the comment “shouldn’t be taken literally,” as Kerry simply intended to underline the urgency of the situation.
A ceasefire announced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on June 20 expires on Friday. Also on Friday, European Union leaders meet in Brussels, where the possibility of imposing new sanctions on Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine will be discussed.
Does that clear it up for you? No? Well, read on…
Kerry’s comments after meeting in Paris with his French counterpart came against the backdrop of both of those looming events.
“[On] Ukraine, we are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours – literally – that they are moving to help disarm the separatists, to encourage them to disarm, to call on them to lay down their weapons and begin to become part of a legitimate political process,” Kerry said alongside Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
But a senior State Department official, briefing reporters on background and off-camera several hours later, rowed back the remark.
“I think he was making a point that, as quickly as possible, the armed separatists should put down their arms and the Russians should play a role in that,” the official said.
“I think he was making a point about urgency. It wasn’t – it shouldn’t be taken literally, but making a point about urgency, as he referenced yesterday, right, about steps that they could take to show the Europeans, to show the United States that they’re serious about the peace process.”
It gets better. When asked if Kerry’s remarks are alluding to new sanctions against Russia, the State Dept. back pedaled quickly.
Asked whether Kerry with his “hours, literally” comment was alluding to the possible imposition of new sanctions, Harf said, “He was not.”
“No,” she continued. “I mean, in general, we’ve said we could do it very quickly. But no, he was not talking about anything specifically.”
Neither the E.U. nor the Obama administration is particularly keen to impose new sanctions on Russia. Kerry said alongside Fabius that further measures against Moscow “need to be ready” – before adding, “but our preference is not to have to be into a sanctions mode.”
Read the full story here.