POLITICS: PennAve

Kerry to travel to Kiev for meetings Tuesday

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,John Kerry,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,State Department,Ukraine

The State Department on Sunday announced that Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Ukraine for meetings Tuesday while President Obama spent Sunday afternoon speaking with U.S. allies and weighing a response to Russia's invasion of the Crimea region.

Kerry will meet with senior members of Ukraine's new government during the trip to Kiev, the State Department said.

“The secretary will reaffirm the United States' strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Obama continued to work the phones Sunday, making calls to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 90 minutes on Saturday.

Members of the North Atlantic Council met Sunday and afterward condemned Russia's “military escalation in Crimea” and expressed “grave concern” about the Russian Parliament's vote to authorize the Russian military's actions in all of Ukraine, not just the Crimea region. The European Union Foreign Affairs Council is set to meet Monday to weigh options.

The Obama administration also deployed Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, to a Sunday meeting in Vienna, Austria of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Nuland will represent the U.S. at a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on Ukraine, the State Department said in a statement Sunday evening.

Earlier Sunday Kerry said the U.S. is still open to working with Russia to protect its interests in the Crimea region but said Moscow would need to pull back its troops and respect Ukraine's sovereignty to avoid international consequences.

While Kerry said U.S. military action is unlikely, he said the U.S. and the international community is considering several actions if the warnings fall on deaf ears.

Those options include moving to kick Russia out of the G8 group of world leaders; canceling U.S. participation in the G-8 Summit planned for June in Sochi, Russia; freezing Russian assets abroad, visa bans, and “other actions by the global community against this unilateral step.”

“The last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of a situation,” Kerry told NBC's "Meet the Press." “We want a peaceful resolution through the normal processes of international relations.”

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