While insisting that the Obama administration is determined to avoid a U.S.-Russian conflict over Ukraine, Kerry said that a military move would cost Moscow "hugely in a world where they're trying to assert a greater legitimacy…. It would be a grave mistake."
Kerry emphasized that the administration does not see the issue in Cold War terms, and was trying to avoid portraying the crisis in ways that could increase tension.
"This is not Rocky IV," he said.
In an interview with a group of reporters, Kerry said U.S. officials are considering providing a $1-billion loan guarantee, plus a direct grant of unspecified size, to supplement an aid package that the
A major U.S. aid package to a post-revolutionary government in Ukraine, a corrupt and nearly bankrupt state, probably would face congressional resistance. But Kerry said Washington needs to do more than “applaud” the efforts of the Ukrainian opposition, which Saturday forced former President
Kerry declined to specify how the
If Russia intervened, "it would be an egregious step against the will of the Ukrainian people, and it would require an appropriate response from a lot of different people in a lot of different places.... I think the U.N. and others would react very adversely to that," he said.
U.S. officials, eager to avoid a potentially costly struggle, have been working to persuade Moscow to cooperate in helping form a new government in Ukraine that would represent both the country's pro-European west and its pro-Russian east.
But Russian officials have denounced the leaders in Kiev as "coup plotters," and stepped up their harsh rhetoric in an apparent effort to intimidate the opposition.
Kerry said that Russia, which has condemned foreign intervention in Libya, Syria and elsewhere, should follow its own advice in Ukraine.
He said the United States has some responsibility for safeguarding Ukraine under a 1994 treaty that says both the United States and Russia are "guarantors" of its integrity.
"That's a viable treaty," he said.
Western officials want to make sure a responsible government is in place before they write checks, analysts say.