Kerry takes aim at Russia over Ukraine and Syria

2016-02-13 18:50
US Secretary of State, John Kerry talks to Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko prior to bilateral talks at the Security Conference in Munich. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

US Secretary of State, John Kerry talks to Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko prior to bilateral talks at the Security Conference in Munich. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

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Munich - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday sharply criticised Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Syria, accusing Moscow of "repeated aggression" in both places.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference, Kerry said Russia was defying the will of the international community with its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and its military intervention in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Assad.

Good faith

His comments came just after Russia's Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told the conference that the West was rekindling the Cold War with sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine and with new Nato moves.

Kerry praised European nations for holding firm on the Ukraine penalties. He urged Moscow to act in good faith in forging a truce in Syria and to allow a political transition that would end the civil war.

He repeated allegations that Russian airstrikes in Syria have not been directed at terrorists but rather at moderate opposition groups supported by the US and its European and Arab partners. Kerry also said that Russia would have to change tactics if an agreement on Friday for a temporary truce in Syria was to actually take effect in a week.

"To date, the vast majority, in our opinion, of Russia's attacks have been against legitimate opposition groups and to adhere to the agreement it made, we think it is critical that Russia's targeting change," Kerry said. "If people who want to be part of the conversation are being bombed, we're not going to have much of a process."

Full compliance

Kerry added that the only way to end the Syrian conflict and ultimately defeat the Islamic State group was a political transition that removed Assad from power.

On Ukraine, Kerry said Russia would continue to be subject to sanctions until it and the rebels it supports in the east come into full compliance with a political agreement reached last year in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

"Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face economically damaging sanctions," he said.

Read more on:    nato  |  dmitry medvedev  |  john kerry  |  russia  |  germany  |  us  |  ukraine  |  syria

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