March 30th, 2014
08:42 PM ET

Kerry: Russia supports finding a diplomatic solution to crisis in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday after four hours of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia had reaffirmed its commitment to finding a diplomatic solution in Ukraine but had not agreed to move Russian troops from the Ukraine border.

"We both made suggestions as to how that will be achieved ... and I will return to Washington to consult with President Obama on his choices," Kerry said at a news conference in Paris. "We are trying to find a way to defuse this."

Kerry said Lavrov indicated Russia "wants to support" Ukraine in its move toward independence but said the massing of Russian troops has created "a climate of fear and intimidation."

"Is it smart at this moment in time to have that number of troops amassed on a border when you are sending a message that you want to de-escalate and move in the other direction?" Kerry said.

Responding to Ukraine: U.S. to keep carrier in Mediterranean to reassure NATO allies
March 12th, 2014
07:19 PM ET

Responding to Ukraine: U.S. to keep carrier in Mediterranean to reassure NATO allies

By Barbara Starr

The Pentagon plans to keep an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean longer than planned as a military presence to reassure NATO allies following Russia’s intervention in Crimea, CNN has learned.

The Obama administration is expected to announce the development involving the USS George H. W. Bush on Thursday.


Ukraine impasse stirs U.S.-Russia tensions
March 11th, 2014
01:26 AM ET

Ukraine impasse stirs U.S.-Russia tensions

By Elise Labott

Tensions between the United States and Russia over the crisis in Crimea have exploded into an open row as Russia rejects U.S. diplomatic efforts to solve the impasse.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss American proposals, which Moscow has effectively rejected, on solving the crisis.

The meeting, which Russia said was supposed to happen Monday, would have marked the highest-level contact between the two countries since Russian troops took up positions in Crimea, and would have come ahead of Sunday's potentially explosive vote on whether Crimea should split from Ukraine and join Russia.

U.S. to offer $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, officials say
March 4th, 2014
09:49 AM ET

U.S. to offer $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, officials say

The United States will provide Ukraine $1 billion in loan guarantees to help insulate the Ukrainian economy from the effects of reduced energy subsidies from Russia, senior Obama administration officials said.

The loan guarantees will help Ukraine move forward with an assistance package from the International Monetary Fund, which is calling for the country to raise energy prices.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who landed Tuesday in Kiev to show American support for the fledgling Ukrainian government, will announce this diplomatic move and others in Ukraine. FULL POST

March 3rd, 2014
08:01 PM ET

West may ultimately have to accept Crimea as part of Russia

By Jim Sciutto
The names involved in the escalating crisis in Ukraine - Crimea, Sevastopol, Simferopol - make it sound far away and far removed from America's allies and its interests. But the tensions there in fact hit very close to home for the United States.
First, Ukraine is not a distant empire but an integral part of Europe. Its capital, Kiev, is just a short flight from cities Americans visit all the time: Rome, Frankfurt, Paris.
Rights report calls out Syria, Russia; Ukraine protesters praised
February 27th, 2014
03:35 PM ET

Rights report calls out Syria, Russia; Ukraine protesters praised

By Laura Koran

Syria carried out "egregious human rights violations" last year, according to a State Department assessment released on Thursday that also singled out abuses in Russia and the Ukraine.

The 2013 Human Rights Report, based on assessments from America's embassies abroad, reserved its strongest language for the Syrian government, which allegedly gassed its own people last August in an atrocity linked to the ongoing civil war.

"Hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator, who decided to infect the air of Damascus with poisonous gas," Secretary of State John Kerry said in presenting the report.

"And many more have been, unfortunately, confined to die under a barrage of barrel bombs, scud missiles, artillery and other conventional weapons," he said.

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Filed under: China • Kerry • State Department • Syria • Ukraine
Is Washington joining 'bidding war' with Moscow over Eastern Europe?
A man serves soup to anti-government protesters in Independence Square on December 4, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine.
December 4th, 2013
09:14 AM ET

Is Washington joining 'bidding war' with Moscow over Eastern Europe?

By Elise Labott

The protests in Ukraine against President Viktor Yanukovich's last-minute decision not to sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union are the biggest in the country since the 2004 Orange Revolution that booted Yanukovich, then Prime Minister, from office.

And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was tough Tuesday in his criticism of the government's use of force against the peaceful demonstrators, saying "violence has no place in a modern European state."

But his decision to skip a visit to Kiev and attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wasn't necessarily a response to the political upheaval and a voice of support for the protesters, nor was it an indictment of the government's heavy-handed methods to combat it.

The snub was, in effect, a U.S. protest of the government's moves to align its trade interests with Moscow by deciding not to join the EU agreement. The so-called Eastern Partnership is designed to forge closer EU ties to Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

October 25th, 2013
06:05 PM ET

EU leaders warn U.S. spying scandal may hamper fight against terror

European leaders warned Friday that reports of widespread spying on world leaders by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised "deep concerns" among Europeans and could affect the cooperation needed for effective intelligence gathering.

"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field," the leaders said in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that Madrid has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos over the matter. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid declined to comment, saying that Rajoy's statement stands for itself.

October 21st, 2013
07:31 PM ET

Report: U.S. intercepts French phone calls on a 'massive scale'

The U.S. ambassador to France met with French diplomats Monday over allegations that the National Security Agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period.

Ambassador Charles Rivkin was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry in Paris after the details of the alleged spying appeared in the French newspaper Le Monde.

"These kinds of practices between partners, that violate privacy, are totally unacceptable," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. "We must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated."

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Filed under: Britain • Edward Snowden • EU • Europe • France • Germany • Intelligence • NSA • Spying
European dealmaking on Syria as U.S. tries to build coalition
September 7th, 2013
04:41 PM ET

European dealmaking on Syria as U.S. tries to build coalition

By Elise Labott

You may have been surprised by the about-face by French President Francois Hollande who - after initially stressing the need for urgent action on Syria while insisting there was no need to wait for the United Nations inspectors' report on the August 21 attack - said on Friday that he now wants to wait for their findings.

Then, Saturday in Lithuania after four hours of talks with Secretary of State John Kerry, the European Union foreign ministers issued a statement blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the chemical weapons attack, calling it a "blatant violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity" and calling for a "clear and strong" international response.

But the statement said U.N. inspectors investigating the incident should report their initial findings before any action is taken.

What's going on?

It is all about European politics.

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Filed under: Europe • Kerry • Security Brief • Syria • United Nations
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